On Tuesday, a gunman killed at least 19 children and two adults, leaving at least 17 more injured, in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
The community of Uvalde—a small, predominantly Hispanic city nestled between San Antonio and the U.S.-Mexico border—is mourning. So is the rest of the nation, as a fierce debate about gun control and painful memories of Sandy Hook reemerge.
Read More: What We Know So Far About the Elementary School Shooting in Uvalde, Texas
Amid the political uproar, community groups, lawyers, and hospitals are rallying to provide support for those impacted through organizing blood drives, providing essential services, and fundraising. Two local funeral homes—Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home and Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary Uvalde—announced on social media that they will assist victims’ families with funerals for free. The San Antonio Food Bank said it would be providing meals to teachers and counselors at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center in Uvalde; the San Antonio Legal Services Association posted on social media that they are recruiting local attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to impacted families; and Hill Country MHDD, which provides mental health services for 19 counties across Central Texas, said in a Facebook post that “help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
There are ways that individuals from across the country and around the world can offer support, too. Here’s how you can help.
Where to donate blood
With several children and adults admitted to hospitals after the shooting, Texas organizations are working to ensure that donated blood is in high supply.
South Texas Blood & Tissue is hosting an emergency blood drive Wednesday at Herby Ham Activity Center in Uvalde from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Tuesday afternoon, it said all appointments in donor rooms had been booked through Saturday but encouraged individuals to sign up for slots through next week. Texas residents can sign up to donate blood here or look for blood drives in and near San Antonio at this link.
South Texas Blood & Tissue said Tuesday in an update on its website that it had already sent 25 units of blood to Uvalde via helicopter. “This tragedy highlights the importance of always having blood available on the shelf and before it’s needed,” it added. At least 600 donors gave blood Wednesday, the organization said.
University Health System, a teaching hospital in San Antonio that said on Tuesday it had received four patients, also urged individuals to consider donating blood. In an update on Wednesday afternoon, it thanked everyone who had given blood. “Blood Donor Services has been flooded with calls and online appointments,” it tweeted.
Fundraisers for victims and their families
It’s important for donors to carefully vet where they send their money, as scammers have previously exploited tragedies such as Sandy Hook to take funds away from the intended cause.
University Health System said that those still willing to help could donate to a Uvalde Victims Relief Fund that it set up. The funds would be “used to support the families while their loved ones are at University Hospital, to cover unpaid medical expenses, and other needs identified by our social workers,” it said.
GoFundMe has created a portal for individuals to donate to verified fundraisers related to the Uvalde shooting.
It includes a fundraiser for the family of Irma Garcia, a fourth grade teacher at Robb Elementary who was killed. The money would be used for family needs and funeral expenses, it said.
It also includes a fundraiser for the family of 10-year-old Xavier Lopez. “Any bit helps and if you can’t help at this time, please lift him and all the parents coping [with] this tragedy and loss, up in prayers tonight,” said a post describing the fundraiser.
GoFundMe is also hosting a fundraiser led by VictimsFirst, a network of families of those killed and injured from over two decades of mass shootings, who say they are raising funds to ensure that “100% of what is collected goes DIRECTLY to the victim base.”
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“We do this because our own families have been re-victimized in the past by non-profits that collect funds for themselves after a mass shooting saying they will ‘support’ the families, which is usually the legal verbiage used when donations do not go directly to victims/survivors themselves,” they said in the description.