How to help massacre victims' families

United Way, Red Cross provide online donation options


MIAMI – The Red Cross and Untied Way are pitching in to help the devastated community of Newtown, Connecticut.

Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground. Of the 50 Red Cross trained workers helping families with the aftermath of the tragedy, a third are mental health professionals.

Volunteers in Connecticut spoke with Local 10's Christina Vazquez over the phone and said many of them were previously in the New York area to help people affected by super storm Sandy. While the needs of Sandy victims were tangible, the families of the massacre victims need emotional support. That's why the Red Cross has established emergency grief counseling centers to help victims' families, members of the community and first responders.

Red Cross public affairs volunteer Jim Guidone arrived to Newtown Saturday morning from him home in North Carolina. Guidone told Vazquez people are asking for help with their loved ones.

"They are coming in uniquely in families. Not individuals, but entire families -- mothers, fathers, sons and daughters -- they are coming in together," said Guidone.

Donations to support the effort can be made on the Red Cross web site.

The United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank, has established an official fund to help victim's families and the community. According to the organization's website, "While the eyes of the world may be on Newtown/Sandy Hook, to several staff, volunteers and contributors, Newtown is home. We will stand with the community and everyone affected directly and indirectly by this tragic event as we face the days and weeks ahead."

Donations to the fund can be made on the United Way of Western Connecticut's web site.

Check donations may be mailed to Sandy Hook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470.

In addition to helping organizations on the ground, some people are reacting to the tragedy by asking what changes the government can make to prevent school shootings. A section of the White House's web site is filled with petitions people have started in response to the massacre.