As the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, pockets of help and hope are forming in communities online and across the United States.
Local fundraisers and shows of support are popping up from Boston to Seattle in honor of the victims and survivors of the Friday night attack that took 129 lives and wounded more than 350 others.
“Boston tech helped heal a tragic event with the marathon bombing, and in the process received amazing international support from our brothers and sisters in the EU. Let's reciprocate their gifts of friendship and humanity," Philip Beauregard, founder of Boston tech company Objective Logistics, wrote in the description for a fundraising page he put up over the weekend.
“Let's let the world know we all stand united against cowardice and treachery. Most importantly, let's help those affected by this despicable event with our financial support,” he continued.
The page, which has a $10,000 goal, had received more than $8,600 in donations as of Monday morning.
In Florida, chef Julien Gremaud donated 5 percent of his West Palm Beach restaurant’s proceeds to the French Red Cross and the victims of the attacks. Mr. Gremaud, who was born in the south of France and has family in Paris, told WPTV that locals were quick to support the effort.
“I have family in Paris and I’ve been to Paris many times and just seeing innocent people being attacked is just very difficult to watch,” Gremaud said.
Just south of Denver, Colo., a French cafe also is also raising funds from sales of its crepes and pastries towards wreaths for the families of the victims. Eric and Isabelle Vivier, who own the Pierre Michel French Cafe in Highlands Park, raised about $3,000 in donations as of Sunday, after placing a request on Facebook asking customers to show their support. The effort will continue until Saturday, Nov. 21.
"It's really the least we can do," one patron, who went to the cafe after hearing about the fundraiser from his son, told 7News Denver. "We're united against ISIS and it's emotional. It could've been in our backyard. It could happen here."
In Seattle, the local French community has banded together, gathering at a bakery in Belltown Saturday afternoon, the Seattle Times reports. The French national anthem and cheers of “Vive la France” rang throughout the neighborhood, and the iconic Space Needle later raised the French flag atop its tower.
“Paris is touching a nerve for a lot of people outside of Paris as well,” Mathias Dangla, who grew up on the west coast of France but has lived in Seattle since 1992, told the Times. “A lot of people have gone to Paris, it has symbols of being a romantic city, a city that stands for freedom, liberty, culture … It is great to see the support outside of France.”
Beyond participating in local efforts, those who want to help victims and survivors can also go online to support the following organizations:
- The French Red Cross, which accepts donations in English and has deployed more than 300 volunteers to aid survivors and bolster support centers.
- Local organizations: Secours populaire française and Cecours Catholique-Caritas France, both of which regularly provide support to the needy and are taking donations for the victims of the attacks; and Restaurants du Cœur, or Restaurants of Love, which specializes in distributing food to those in need.
But donors should be wary of fraudulent charities and organizations looking to take advantage of people’s compassion. As Charity Navigator, a group that seeks to advance efficient and responsible philanthropy, warns:
- Give to an established charity. Stick to organizations with proven records of success, and avoid new groups created specifically to deal with the latest crisis.
- Avoid telemarketers and email solicitations. Be wary of fundraisers who ask for donations by phone and unsolicited emails with attachments. Never give credit card information over the phone.
- “Think before you text.” Texting can be a great and convenient way to give, but donors should vet the charity receiving the donations and check for additional fees before sending money. The same goes for groups that call for donations via social media.
- Keep tabs on donations. While it takes time for charities to assess crises and develop solutions, donors should follow up with the organization after a few months to find out how a donation was used and what else the group needs to complete its efforts.
[Editor's note: The original story incorrectly stated that Doctors Without Borders was collecting donations to benefit Paris victims.]