5 ways to help victims, survivors, and families after the mass shooting in Texas
Communities across the nation are still mourning as details unfold about the mass shooting that took place in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5th. This shooting comes only a month after the Las Vegas shooting, the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Here is what we know so far: Dressed all in black and outfitted with a ballistic vest and military-style rifle, a single gunman, identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, opened fire on parishioners at First Baptist Church. 26 people were killed and dozens more injured. After fleeing the scene, Kelley was found dead in his car after being chased down by two heroic bystanders.
In the wake of a tragedy of this magnitude — in a society where so many politicians avoid taking action — it can be difficult to feel like, as an individual, you can help. If you want to rally around the victims and their families in order to offer support and assistance, here are a few ways to do so.
The South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (STBTC) has provided more than 200 units of blood to hospitals in South Texas in order to treat Sunday’s shooting victims. If you are in or around the Sutherland area and able to donate blood, STBTC is asking for donors with O-positive or O-negative blood types. The center is also asking for platelet donations to help replenish the bank.
2Donate to GoFundMe pages for the victims
Among those who lost their lives were eight members of the Holcombe family, including associate pastor Bryan Holcombe. A GoFundMe account has been established to help with medical and funeral expenses incurred by the Holcombe family. In addition to Bryan Holcombe, other family members who died in the shooting were Bryan’s wife, Karla, the couple’s 36-year-old son, Marc Daniel, Marc Daniel’s daughter, Noah Holcombe, and daughter-in-law Crystal Holcombe, who was pregnant. Three of Crystal’s children, Emily, Megan and Greg, were also killed.
Another affected family, the Wards, have also established a GoFundMe account. Joann Ward and her two daughters were among the victims of the shooting, while her youngest son was wounded. Their aunt set up the account to help with funeral expenses for the daughters, as well as medical bills for Joann’s son as he recovers in the hospital.
3Donate directly to the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs
First Baptist Church is accepting donations to help pay monthly bills and keep its doors open to those seeking solace in the senseless shooting’s aftermath. You can donate via their website – just look for the yellow “Donate” button on the lefthand side of the page.
4Contact your elected officials
Perhaps the step with the most lasting impact is calling and writing to your elected officials to inform them we need better gun laws. Some officials try to discourage these discussions after a mass shooting, asking for time to heal first. However, with a total of 377 mass shootings recorded in the United States this year alone, we cannot feasibly wait for these discussions to happen next week or next month.
If you are unsure of how to contact your officials, check out this form from Everytown for Gun Safety that will easily and quickly help you find the number to call. You can also visit the following pages to search for contacts of U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and Governors. If we truly want to stop seeking out articles explaining how to help victims and survivors of countless mass shootings, we need to speak up and hold our officials accountable for the legislation they do (or do not) pass.
5Double check what you share
The past few months have seen increased scrutiny of social media rumors and irresponsible reporting. We need everyone — reporters, political officials, social media users, ourselves — to double check their facts. Accuracy is needed to ensure public safety and to respect the gravity of the situation.
In response to the Texas shooting, Texas Rep. Vicente González told CNN anchor Ana Cabrera that he had “been told” that the shooter was a man named Sam Hyde. Not only is this incorrect, it is a common hoax repeated time and time again after these kinds of tragedies.
Processing your emotions after these recurring atrocities is important for your health and for your ability to help others.
It is okay to first take a step back in order to work through what has happened and what continues to happen in such quick succession. It is — and will continue to be — difficult, but together we can move forward by creating a community of support.