Here’s how you can help Sandy Hook families

At VentureBeat, we haven’t had much to say about last week’s mass school shooting at Sandy Hook. We didn’t feel it was our place to do so, and we thought a respectful silence on the subject — and the controversial adjacent topics of mental health and national gun laws — was the best course for a tech and business publication like ours.

Today, we and many of our colleagues around the web are observing an Internet moment of silence, starting at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time, to honor the families and the lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook community and to do something about gun violence.

It is every human’s most natural instinct to want to help those we see suffering. We don’t want to make a political statement about guns or use this tragedy to promote ourselves in any way. What we will offer, however, are a few ways you can materially help those directly affected by the shooting: The parents and families who lost children and siblings.

For the next five minutes, please think about helping out however you can.

Newtown Youth & Family Services

Newtown Youth & Family Services is currently offering emergency counseling for Sandy Hook families, community members, and staff. Moreover, the organization states on its website, “Kids in Crisis will be at Newtown Youth & Family Services to provide emotional and therapeutic support for parents, students, and school staff. We will have numerous professionals (psychologist, psychiatrists and clinicians) available. No appointments are necessary.” Newtown Youth & Family Services is still assessing community needs and will likely need clinical and community volunteers in the near future.

The Newtown Memorial Fund

“Created by a Newtown parent in response to the tragedy, the Newtown Memorial Fund’s mission is to create a long-term fund to provide a memorial to those who were lost and to establish academic scholarships for classmates and generations of Newtown students to come.”

The fund was established by community member Brian Mauriello, who told reporters, “I’ve chosen to do something that I think this community will need — not just today or next year, but for generations to come. We need an enduring memorial fund. No amount of money will bring back our loved ones, but our hope is that through the centralization of others’ gifts and fundraising work, coupled with our own, we will achieve much more. An integrated approach will provide immediate support, while helping to ensure the victims’ memories are preserved as we make strides for our community to be improved in the future.”

The Fairfield County Community Foundation

This foundation has established a special fundraising effort to address mental health needs in the area “to address the systemic issues raised by the Sandy Hook tragedy.” The foundation provildes philanthropic support to advisory services and nonprofits in the area. Already, the foundation has a Fund for Health and Wellness, which specifically earmarks funds for mental health and substance abuse services.

United Way, Western Connecticut

The United Way in Western Connecticut is also accepting donations. Many individual families impacted by the shooting are doing individual fundraisers to meet their family needs; United Way is preparing to support these and other Sandy Hook community members as soon as needs become identifiable. “As people from our area and beyond respond to this heartbreaking tragedy, they are turning to United Way looking for ways to help. In response, United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank has created the ‘Sandy Hook School Support Fund’ that will be able to provide support services to the families and community that has been affected.”

Newtown Parent Connection

The Newtown Parent Connection is collecting donations. The grassroots organization offers meetings and support groups in partnership with Newtown Social Services and the nonprofit Family Counseling Center to address substance abuse issues in the community and to offer clinical and counseling services. On its website, the organization states, “We are continuing to work to provide assistance and hope for the victims’ families and the Newtown/Sandy Hook community who have been affected by this devastating tragedy.”

Image credit: ValleyIndy/Flickr