The Illinois suburb of Highland Park is still reeling from the July Fourth parade shooting that killed seven people, wounded dozens and affected many others.
As you learn more about the lives lost and damage wrought, you may be wondering how you can support those impacted by the tragedy.
One way is to donate to the community, either to the official city funds or to verified fundraisers created by the families of victims and survivors (more on that below). Consider using websites like Charity Navigator and GiveWell to maximize your impact.
Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering warned people of scams on Wednesday.
“Please be aware of online and email solicitations for donations as they may not be legitimate,” she said in a statement. “Also, protecting the privacy of victims and their families is paramount. Please be considerate when sharing information on social media, and do not share personal details about the victims or their families.”
Here is a non-exhaustive guide to ways you can help:
Support official community funds
The Highland Park Community Foundation has established a July 4th Highland Park Shooting Response Fund, which it says will give all donations directly to victims, survivors and local organizations that support them.
You can fill out this online form to donate, or send a check payable to the Highland Park Community Foundation to P.O. Box 398, Highland Park, IL 60035.
“Never have we needed the strength of community and neighbors more than now,” the foundation wrote on Facebook. “Thank You and Please share widely.”
The Lake County Community Crisis Relief Fund is also raising money to help local residents in the wake of the shooting.
It says 100% of donations will go towards the needs of the community, including mental health counseling services, downtown revitalization, violence prevention and education and any “other urgent needs as they arise.” You can donate online here.
Donate to verified fundraisers
Many of the people who suffered injuries or lost loved ones in the shooting have created online fundraisers to solicit donations for things like funeral expenses, medical bills and other forms of assistance.
Some of the verified fundraisers are organized by VictimsFirst, a network of surviving victims of mass casualty crime who collect donations to make sure people directly impacted by similar tragedies receive the funds directly. They have launched similar fundraisers in the aftermath of recent mass shootings including those in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, N.Y.; Atlanta, Ga.; and El Paso.
Their Highland Park fundraiser, which has a monetary goal of $320,000, promises to give 100% of donations to the families of the deceased and injured.
“Our families have been re-victimized in the past by nonprofits that collect funds for themselves after a mass shooting saying they will ‘support’ or ‘help’ the families which is usually the verbiage used when donations do not go directly to the victim base itself,” they wrote. “We will find a way to get the funds directly to the families. We always have.”
Provide mental health services
The city’s website lists a variety of mental health resources available to people impacted by the tragedy, with in-person counseling services being offered in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and additional support available through 211.
Officials are asking mental health professionals that may be interested in volunteering their services to fill out a provider survey online.
Several area hospitals advertised blood drives in the days following the shooting, according to a list of resources compiled by 211. And while their needs may have since been met, they say there’s still plenty of reason to give blood.
A spokesperson for the NorthShore University HealthSystem told NPR over email on Thursday that it had received an outpouring of support from communities who wished to donate blood in the wake of the tragedy.
“We currently have adequate blood supply to support the patients in our care,” he said. “We welcome individuals who would like to donate blood to NorthShore in support of other clinical needs.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 847-570-2242.