Almost immediately, thousands of Orlandoans began to reach out to help in anyway possible. Hundreds lined up at blood banks to donate blood. Local businesses set up campaigns to raise money for victims and their families. And everyday citizens organized ceremonial vigils to remember the ones who were lost that early Sunday morning, one man even made 49 wooden crosses by hand to remember the victims. It’s acts like these that will define Orlando and the state of Florida forever, not the selfish acts of one particular individual. Orlando, like never before, was there for itself.
But as the news got out and further spread, Orlando would not be the only community holding their arms open. Communities and individuals from all over the United States began reaching out and displaying acts of support, care, and love. Being named America’s deadliest mass shooting, some Americans even drove thousands of miles to Florida just to somehow be part of the relief effort after such a tragedy. And for those who couldn’t show up in person started to create online fundraisers, write open letters about homophobia in the U.S., and the never ending American gun control debate was brought back up in forums and blogs from all over the world.
Being Floridians ourselves, when Things Floridians Like became aware of the situation in Orlando we immediately scrambled into action to try figure out what we could do to help. Thats when we set up the #PrayForOrlando fundraising campaign and thanks to many of our caring followers we successfully raised $2,800 to be donated to Equality Florida, an LGBT organization that has assisted in getting the money dispensed to those affected by the shooting.
Just to be clear, this was not just an act of terrorism against our country, but an attack on love. Which is why so many Orlandoans, Flordians, and United States citizens have come together and united like they have. There was no enemy in this violent outburst. The assailant was not aiming at specific individuals as targets but targeted an emotion. An emotion he clearly did not receive enough of, and therefore became blind to it.
Despite such senseless violence, Orlando’s heartbeat is now stronger than ever. With the worlds eyes pointing at Central Florida, they can see Orlando is now united as one. A community that was able to bounce back from such a selfish act of hatred by demonstrating the only thing that can destroy that hatred. And that thing my fellow Floridians, is love.