Although any mass shooting reverberates through communities, the shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs is particularly significant. In a town of 600, the murder of 26 people means that likely everyone who survived is personally affected by the brutal tragedy. And for those of us who were unfamiliar with the tiny town to the east of San Antonio before Sunday, the powerless feeling as we watch it unfold is hard to live with.
There are ways to contribute, though. In the immediate aftermath of this kind of massacre, there are two immediate needs: Blood and money.
— SA2020 (@SA2020) November 6, 2017
People with type O blood are in high demand right now, and they can contribute at South Texas Blood & Tissue Center locations throughout the San Antonio area. Even as the immediate need in Sutherland Springs has been covered by that organization’s reserves, restoring those reserves remains a priority. Giving blood now ensures that the units sustaining Sutherland Springs victims are replenished for the next person who needs it to survive.
Financial donations help too. Although there’s much left to learn about the victims in Sutherland Springs, the town’s path to recovery will be uncertain in the near future. Family breadwinners, presumably, were killed by the shooter; people whose businesses sustained the community may have been shot; those who are hospitalized or grieving, whose financial circumstances may have already been uncertain, will need relief to ensure that the tragedy of the shooting isn’t followed immediately by a personal economic disaster.
— ABC News (@ABC) November 6, 2017
The Wilson County District Attorney’s Office announced fundraising efforts to assist the families of victims. There are also other ways to contribute. On its Facebook page, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs is soliciting donations. It’s not immediately clear exactly where those funds will be directed, but as the hub for the community that was the target of the attack, the church is certainly among the best-equipped entities to know where and with whom the need is greatest. (Ordinarily, the church fundraises to support its food pantry, fall festival, prison ministry, and community dinners.) You can also donate to the church at H-E-B registers throughout Texas.
Additionally, a handful of organizations and fundraising pages have been set up. Mercury One, the 501(c)(3) set up by Glenn Beck in 2011 is seeking donations on its website; it pledges 100% of funds raised will go to “humanitarian efforts” in the community. On GoFundMe, a small non-profit that launched out of Chicago in September has raised nearly $15,000 at press time, pledging to distribute all funds raised directly to victims. Two other GoFundMe sites are raising money for specific families affected by the shooting. San Antonio car wash Bee Clean has pledged a $10,000 donation of its own, and the business’s owner promised to open a bank account for others to contribute, as well, though those details aren’t yet public.
When contributing money in a situation like this, it’s worth remaining thoughtful about which organizations you trust. National organizations tend to be run by people whose hearts are in the right place, and in certain situations, their ability to mobilize quickly makes them a good choice for giving: When the need is both complex and immediate, donating money to larger organizations can save resources that locals might need to devote to creating an infrastructure. In a situation like the one in Sunderland Springs, though, the need is straightforward: Victims and their families should be able to recover or grieve without worrying about immediate financial distress, which makes funds like the one organized by the D.A. and the church seem like the most direct way to help. Do your own research before clicking “donate,” but if you’re not contributing to a local organization with a direct connection to the people you intend to help, make sure you’ve considered why you’re giving to the fundraising campaign you’ve chosen.