Disaster and Emergency Help

Ways to Help in the Aftermath of Tragedy

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After a tragedy such as a mass shooting or a hurricane, many of us want to do something but we aren’t quite sure the best ways to help. Whether you’re in the area or across the country, here are a few things you can do.

Donate Blood.

If you live in the area and are able to give blood, contact the American Red Cross for blood drives in the area.

If you don’t live in the area, you can still donate blood. Sudden, immediate needs can tax already limited supplies and your donation -- from any part of the country -- can help where it’s needed most.

Donate to a Relief Fund.

Charities like the National Compassion Fund are set up specifically to help victims of mass crimes. You can also consider donating to regional chapters of organizations such as the American Red Cross to make sure your money goes to victims of this specific incident or natural disaster.

Major news stations will report on relief funds set up to help all victims. If you are solicited to donate to other charities, be sure to confirm that the charity is not a scam. Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar review charities and provide information that can help you make a decision about where to donate.

Also, be sure to make your donation through a secure website, so your information isn’t intercepted by a hacker or identity thief. If the web address (URL) begins with “https”—the “s” stands for secure — information like credit card numbers will be encrypted before being sent over the server.

Use, or Encourage Others to Use, Grief Counseling.

Recovering emotionally takes time. The American Red Cross offers free, 24/7 counseling through its Disaster Distress Helpline anytime by calling 1-800-985-5990. You can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

Protect Your Rights.

If you were directly affected by the tragedy, consider finding an attorney to help protect your rights throughout the recovery process. An attorney can help track and access government assistance programs, set up funds or other vehicles to accept donations you may receive for personal assistance and can explain any tax implications of setting up or contributing to a relief fund.

An attorney may also be able to help you better understand federal, state disability and other benefits available to you and how to apply for those benefits. If you are an ARAG plan member directly affected by a tragedy or natural disaster, you can call ARAG at 800-247-4184 for help with any legal needs you may face.

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