There have been calls for prayer, self-care and reaching out to loved ones following the Pulse nightclub massacre. On Sunday morning, 29-year-old Omar Mateen opened fire in Orlando’s Pulse, a gay club, and murdered at least 50 people, wounding 53 others before being killed in a shootout with law enforcement.
The victims, their families, the city of Orlando and members of the LGBT community need support. Here are a few ways you can help those involved.
You can also donate to the Orlando Youth Alliance for general LGBT support.
Donate Blood And Plasma
A local blood bank in Orlando called OneBlood issued a call for blood types O negative, O positive and AB plasma. Interested donors can visit the OneBlood website or call their hotline at 1-888-9Donate. The website currently has a message thanking donors and saying they are at capacity. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the blood bank is urging potential donors to return in the coming days. Local donor sites include:
Orlando West Michigan Donor Center
345 W. Michigan Street, Ste. 106
Orlando, FL 32806
Orlando Main Donor Center
8669 Commodity Circle
Orlando, FL 32819
Oviedo Donor Center
1954 W. State Road 426
Oviedo, FL 32765
Attend Or Start A Vigil
For those in the Orlando area, there will be a gathering at 7 p.m. at Lake Eola Park, 512 East Washington Street, Orlando, FL.
Seek Help And Counseling
The Orlando Youth Alliance meets every Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. at Reeves United Methodist Church, 1100 N. Ferncreek Ave, Orlando.
Zebra Coalition has set up a crisis hotline that can be reached at 407-228-1446. The Center also has grief counselors on site at 946 N. Mill Ave, Orlando, FL 32803.
Another hotline available for LGBT youth crisis prevention is the Trevor Project Hotline. Call them at 1-866-488-7386.
Orlando’s local government set up a hotline for victims and their families. Call 407-246-4357 if you believe you have a loved one who is a victim of the Pulse shooting.
Support Gun Control Legislation
As with the other unfortunate mass shooting events, this latest Pulse nightclub massacre thrusts gun control legislation to the forefront. This event is being called one of the worst mass shootings ever in the United States. You can support gun control legislation in a few ways.
Get involved with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a gun control advocacy group, by donating, signing gun control petitions and more.
The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence is another gun control organization, named after Ronald Reagan’s Press Secretary Jim Brady, who was injured during a Reagan assassination attempt.
It’s also important to learn local, state and federal government officials’ stances on gun violence and gun control.
Don’t Turn To Hatred And Fear
Media and law enforcement officials are reporting that the Pulse gunman called 911 and swore his allegiance to ISIS moments before the shooting and that ISIS has since claimed some sort of responsibility for the mass murder.
Though the organization has given no proof that they were involved in this tragedy, they said, “The attack that targeted a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando, Florida and that left more than 100 dead and wounded was carried out by an Islamic State fighter.”
ISIS is a terrorist organization and their violent, extreme ideals do not at all reflect the beliefs of Islam and the Muslims who practice that religion. Following the Paris terrorist attacks in November, 2015, innocent Muslims faced xenophobia and bigoted backlash in the United States and beyond.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a national organization dedicated to spreading knowledge and awareness about Islam, providing social justice and empowerment for American Muslims and uniting the nation. There are three CAIR chapters in Florida—one in Tampa, the South Florida office and the Orlando office. You can learn about volunteer opportunities with CAIR here, donate to CAIR here, and combat Islamophobia through CAIR here.
Continue To Offer Support And Positive Messages On Social Media
Messages of love and support have flooded social media since news broke about the Pulse nightclub shooting. Words of encouragement are invaluable and should never be underestimated, especially in times of tragedy. Continue to promote love, prayer, self-care and unity as the nation and the world copes with this heartbreaking situation.