At least 49 people (the initial count included the shooter) are dead and more than 50 others wounded after a man opened fire inside the Pulse LGBT nightclub in Orlando early on Sunday morning, an attack that would become the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the horrific event as an act of terrorism and a hate-fueled attack on the LGBT community, a lot remains unclear. But what is clear is that many people affected by the shooting need your help.
Here's a running list of the ways you can help the victims, their families, and the LGBT community:
After putting out an urgent call for blood donations after the shooting, the OneBlood center said it received an overwhelming response, with thousands of Central Floridians lining up to donate, according to a report by the Orlando Sentinel. The organization announced that its donation centers were already at capacity on Sunday, but urged people who'd like to donate their blood to make an appointment and return in the coming days, when more blood will be needed. So, if you live in the area or nearby (find a donation center here), you know what to do.
Here are the federal requirements for donating blood.
Equality Florida, the state's LGBT rights organization, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for the shooting victims and their families. As of early Sunday night, almost 20,000 donors had raised more than $700,000.
"Funds raised on this page will be going directly to the victims and families affected by the horrific shooting at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub," the fundraising page states. "Equality Florida is working with local organizations -- who are also helping to raise funds -- to ensure the money is distributed properly."
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Central Florida has also set up a GoFundMe page in an effort to "defray any expenses incurred by the victims and their families."
Support an LGBT community organization
The Pulse nightclub attack has devastated the LGBT community, both in Florida and across the country (if not the world), and now, community organizations -- both local and national -- are working to provide support, counseling, and other services to those who may be in need. Here are a few non-profit organizations you can help by donating money or offering your time as a volunteer to help field calls (contact them to see what's needed):
It's also worth looking into LGBT groups and other community organizations in your area to see if you can help.
Find help, help others
As mentioned above, many community organizations in Florida and across the country are offering grief counseling and other services to those affected by the horrific attack. If you're in need of help, or know of someone who may be in need of help, here are a few places to call:
- The GLBT Community Center Crisis Hotline: 407-228-1446
- The Trevor Project Hotline: 866-488-7386
- The Anti-Violence Project Hotline: 212-714-1141
- The GLBT National Help Center: 888-843-4564
The It Gets Better Project also offers a list of places where you can find support in your state.
Go to a vigil
From New York City to Phoenix, community groups and advocates in cities all across the country are holding vigils on Sunday night to stand in solidarity with the victims of the shooting. A quick Google search will likely point you to a vigil near you. There's also a chance for additional events throughout the week to mourn and remember those who were killed as well as support the survivors.
Other ways to help?
Do you know of another way to help the victims that we may have missed? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to this list.