Here is a partial list of agencies helping to provide assistance and relief to the people of Japan during this emergency:
You may have your own favorite charity, which of course may be the best way for you to help.
And then I found Lady Gaga on-line late this evening; she’s lending a hand with proceeds from special Japan prayer bracelets that she’s designed. Based on her website links, it appears the money she raises, promoted via Twitter, will go to the Citizen Effect Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. Whatever works –
Addendum, 3/16/11 – I read in today’s NY Times that the Japanese Red Cross is not accepting help from the American Red Cross, or from many other (unspecified) charities and international agencies. I cannot verify the goodness or efficiency of any particular charities, except to say that in general it seems from the pictures that the people in northeast Japan need food and clean water, among other things.
I don’t know which are the “best” ways to help, if you can and want to do so, except that money that can be used as needed is generally considered more effective than sending, say, hundreds of thousands of used shoes and blankets and canned vegetables. Or maybe not.