**UPDATE: WeAreOrlando.Org has been created to give you information on events and ways to support in the wake of the attack on the LGBT community at Pulse Orlando.  There are currently three events scheduled in Illinois, two for today (Chicago and Peoria) and one in Oak Park on June 15th. You can also add an event in your area and learn more about donating and counseling. **

Yesterday started like just like any other Sunday, I woke up feeling a little groggy from staying up until the wee hours of the night; fired up the coffee maker and opened up my Facebook app. At the top of my news feed, I saw that my friend Melinda had "checked-in" as being "safe" in Orlando and tagged "Orlando Shooting." I thought to myself, "what in the hell did I miss?"

I immediately Googled "Orlando Shooting" and I was stunned. If I didn't have to be somewhere at 11 that morning, I would've went right back to bed. I thought, "oh my god, not again."  My initial reaction was to post something on Facebook but I was, for the first time in a long time, speechless; nearly shaken to my core.

As I spent the day with friends at a bridal shower and walked the aisles of Walmart and Meijer getting my ice cream and waffles, my mind was consumed with the events that had taken place the night before. How could I help? What could I do to make an impact? There has to be something, anything, that I could do to make a difference.

If you're anything like me and you're wondering how you can help the victims of the Orlando shooting, here's how:

Donate Blood

The Rock River Valley Blood Center's supply is at a critical low and has been for weeks; they are in desperate need of donations now more than ever.  According to WIFR, they've already sent 10 units of O-Negative blood to Orlando and 20 AB Plasma units that can be used by anyone regardless of blood types.  There will be a blood drive today, Monday June 13th, all day at all RRVBC sites.

Donate Money

Monetary donations are always accepted and will be used to help the victims of the families. A donation page has been set up by Equity Flordia on GoFundMe and has already raised over $1 million.

Attend a Candlelight Vigil

Spring Creek United Church of Christ was the first to jump into action after the shooting, holding a prayer vigil to remember those killed in the attack. Vigils like the one Milwaukee will be holding at the corner of Water and Wells by City Hall will be happening all over the country. If you can't attend, hold your own or let us know if you know of any happening in the Rockford area.

Love One Another

This is just one I wanted to add myself.  Regardless of what your ethnic background is, what sex you prefer or what political party you vote for, all that matters is love. Love one another and accept them for who they are. How someone lives there life day-in and day-out should have no affect on how you live yours. The ability to stop hatred starts with you, we can't let things like sexual orientation, race or religion continue to divide us. We are all in this thing called life together and the best way to get through it by leaning on each other. Lastly, just make sure to tell your loved ones you love them everyday, you never know if that's the last time you'll get the chance.

If you or someone you know is holding an event or vigil for the victims of the Orlando shooting in the Rockford area, please let us know.







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