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How To Help In the Wake Of Shootings

In 2018, there were over 300 mass shootings in the United States. While some, such as the shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, California that left 13 dead, have made national news, most shootings are never even acknowledged by news outlets in the community affected, let alone statewide or national media channels. If you, like most people in our nation, are tired of waking up every day to announcements of more lives lost to senseless violence, now is the time for you to step up and make a change in your community. Here are X ways that anyone can help after a shooting:

1. Give blood.

 

Vitalant, the Red Cross and most local hospitals and community blood banks have opportunities for you to donate at their local donation centers and at mobile blood drives. Whole blood donations usually take less than an hour, and many places offer you rewards like gift cards and movie tickets! Want to take it to the next level? Ask your work or school to consider hosting a blood drive in partnership with one of these donation centers! This can be done at no cost to your organization and makes donating easy if you aren’t able to visit a center during their normal operating hours.

 

RELATED: What Traumatic Events Like Mass Shootings Do To Our Brains & What We Can Do About It

 

2. Write to your elected representatives.

 

Common Cause has developed a straightforward guide to finding and contacting elected officials at the local, state and national levels and learning more about bills they’ve introduced and committees they’ve been involved with. Your representatives will appreciate receiving thoughtful letters from involved community members such as yourself, and can help direct you to organizations and programs that they are working with to assist affected communities and develop new legislation that will help put an end to these tragedies.

 

3. Donate.

 

 

Whether it’s money, time or services, donations are always appreciated during this time. Consider hosting a vigil for those affected to come together and mourn, or a public forum where your community can discuss what action should be taken to confront this issue. Volunteering for emergency services, such as a suicide hotline, is another way to contribute since shootings can often stir up feelings of anxiety and depression in many. If you work for or own a business that sells goods or services such as food, candles or flowers, consider offering to donate them to those holding vigils or funerals after the shooting. These expenses add up quickly and may be something the loved ones of victims couldn’t afford otherwise.

 

RELATED: Sick of School Shootings? Let's Do Something About Them

 

4. Think before you share.

After a shooting, news outlets and social media are going to be inundated with a flood of posts, photos and videos sharing information regarding the shooting. Before sharing this information, make sure it’s factual and appropriate by researching the information and the source. If you find contradicting evidence from a reputable source, don’t share the original information until it is confirmed true. For the best information, turn to trusted news outlets like CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and of course, the News section of Her Campus. Make sure the information is appropriate as well — if it contains language, pictures or videos that are graphic and unsettling, you may want to warn people of the content before sharing it.

 

5. Reach out to local organizations that provide mental health services.

 

There are many local nonprofits and medical organizations who provide mental health services to the community. Consider volunteering with them if you are able, or offering other goods and services to the centers and their clients during this time that can help support them. If you are concerned about your own mental health or the mental health of someone in your life, or feel that the aftermath of the shooting has had an affect on your school or workplace, consider speaking with volunteers about getting services for those affected. Speaking out will help continue to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and prevent further tragedies from occurring in the wake of the shooting by allowing those affected to discuss and share their concerns and feelings in a safe, open environment.

It is easy to fall victim to feelings of fear and helplessness after a shooting. Remember that you aren't helpless at all — there are many things you can do to show your love and support for those affected during this time. Even if you are just one person, you can still make a difference by becoming more involved in community action and encouraging others to do the same. 

Audrey is a senior studying agricultural sciences at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. After graduating, she plans to get a teaching credential and master's in Agricultural Education, and pursue a career as an agricultural science teacher and FFA advisor. Outside of school, she works as a teaching assistant at a local high school. In her free time, she can be found square dancing, rocking out to Taylor Swift, or whipping up tasty treats and (attempting) to take a decent photo of them for Instagram. Facebook: Audrey Lent Twitter: @TheAudreyLent Instagram: @Audrey_Lent
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