Whenever a tragedy strikes, it becomes a time that we all come together. It’s rare for so many to be in unity, but it restores a sense of hope that’s lost after seeing so much division. This is what has happened in Orlando this past week following the deadly shooting at a gay night club. We’ve seen people come out to vigils and social media light up with love and condolences. Throughout these social platforms, the usual “pray for” hashtag that begins after a tragedy has started trending. You see everyone using it; politicians, celebrities, parody accounts, your grandma and maybe even you. While giving our condolences to the families is respectful, what can we do to actually help those affected?
I came across a new type of hashtag started on Twitter that did just that. “ActForOrlando” has become a new type of hashtag offering ideas on what everyone can do to possibly prevent another tragedy and help those affected. Here are just some of the ways that the hashtag has listed.
- Contact your elected officials. This is probably one of the most important ones. Email Congress allows you to find each elected representative’s email to contact as it can be hard navigating through many names and emails. It may feel like our voice isn’t big enough, but when so many people come together, we can create change and work to end gun violence. Just this past week Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut staged a filibuster that lasted a record 14 hours and 50 minutes. Because of this, the GOP has now agreed to vote on proposed gun control.
- Donating and giving directly to those impacted. A GoFundMe has been set up for the victims of the shooting, including victims’ families and survivors. Pulse has also set a PayPal called Pulse Employee Recovery Fund for the employees affected. OneOrlando is a fund set up by the mayor of Orlando, providing relief for the victims. For those able to be in Orlando, there are many local restaurants and bars giving their proceeds to the victims. Blood drives are still important as there are many victims in the hospital. BloodOne has many different locations and can be found on their site. The LGBT Center of Orlando has also provided many resources for those affected.
- Petitions. Signing them may seem like a waste of time, but they can actually accomplish a lot. Once a petition reaches a certain number of signatures (100,000 to be exact), the White House will provide an update or response within 60 days. It can’t hurt to add more than 100,000 signatures and to add your voice. Here are three important ones.
- Support and talking. Many have found themselves affected by this, especially as it was a direct attack on the LGTBQ+ community. We’re shown why Pride month and LGTBQ+ outlets are so important. The Trevor Project has always been a great resource for the community and now has an instant messaging service and social networking site as well as a hotline for those in need. Just you being there can also be a great support. It’s important to be there for friends or family who may be scared to reach out otherwise.
Coming together and actually acting is so crucial. We shouldn’t even be in this spot, but after this latest shooting where 49 have been killed, we need do something. This country can’t afford to sit back and accept it anymore; we need to act.