South Floridians are still trying to make sense of yesterday's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was the act of a madman, a teenager with a gun in a country plagued by gun violence and a state that saw one of the worst mass shootings in history less than two years ago in Orlando. Seventeen people are dead.
It's hard not to feel helpless in the face of such senseless violence. But you're not helpless. You're very much alive, and there are things you can do to help those in need right now.
Donate blood. After Broward Health North and Broward Health Medical Center were inundated with victims of yesterday's violence, the hospitals' supplies of blood for trauma victims has been seriously depleted. OneBlood, the Florida-based donation service, is asking for people to give blood at one of its Big Red Busses or at a donation center. The service especially encourages people with O-negative blood to donate because that type is universally accepted, making it absolutely vital for hospitals dealing with crises such as this one.
OneBlood is hosting a blood drive today, February 15, from noon to 7 p.m. at Cox Media, 2741 N. 29th Ave., Hollywood. You can also find other OneBlood donation locations at oneblood.org.
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Support the victims' fund. The Broward Education Foundation is raising money for the victims and their families of the Valentine's Day massacre. So far, it has raised $238,830 of its $350,000 goal. No amount of money will make these families feel whole again or help these students forget the things they saw or the horrors they heard yesterday at Stoneman Douglas. But this money can help victims seek grief counseling or physical therapy. Every dollar counts, so give whatever you can. Visit gofundme.com.
Talk about gun control. The rate of gun-related homicides in the United States is 25 times higher than in other wealthy, developed countries. That is not a liberally slanted exaggeration; it's a fact stated by a study in the American Journal of Medicine. One study from the Small Arms Survey shows nearly half of the world's civilian-owned guns are here in the United States. It's time we stopped thinking that adding more guns to the equation will solve the problem and make the nation safer. It's time Americans start following the rest of the world and implementing serious gun-control laws.
That means taking part in a conversation that's one of the most important national dialogues our time. This is not someone else's issue — if recent history has shown us anything, it's that this can happen to anyone, anywhere. It's not enough to hang our heads and say this is the world we live in. It's time we change the world we live in. The Miami-Dade Democratic Party will host an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss gun reform. Go get involved. 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, February 16, at CIC Miami, 1951 NW Seventh Ave., Suite 600, Miami; miamidadedems.org/gunreform. You can also dial in to listen to the meeting, but RSVP is required.
This post will be updated as new relief opportunities emerge.