It's easy, after an earthquake or a hurricane, to show that you care. You can send drywall and diapers, or at least money to buy them, and ease the pain of fellow citizens in the path of destruction.
But when people are dealing with child-killing horror, as they are following the Friday school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it's harder to help your neighbor. The houses of the afflicted are still standing; they still have their jobs and their infrastructure; it is their hearts that are broken.
You still can help.
Local counseling services are working overtime; families must still pay bills while they take days off work to arrange the unthinkable -- funerals for their young children. Many families of the victims are already thinking of starting memorial funds in their children's names to provide scholarships and meet other needs when the immediate crisis has passed.
But remember that in the wake of tragedy come many good acts and a few scams. So donate through long-standing and well-known organizations or wait long enough to check the bona fides of a new one.
Here are some ways you can contribute.
-- My Sandy Hook Family Fund (https://everribbon.com/ribbon/view/10076)
Set up by the parents of children who survived and other locals, this fund will help with funerals, as well as ongoing living expenses such as food, mortgage payments, daycare, insurance and fuel until they are back on solid ground.
-- Newtown Memorial Fund (https://everribbon.com/ribbon/view/10088)
A new fund founded by Brian Mauriello, who describes himself as a long-term Newtown resident and a parent, to pay for short-term expenses as well as a memorial and a multi-generational foundation fund for the Newtown, Connecticut, community. He is seeking board members.
-- Sandy Hook School Support Fund (https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/); c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
This fund was set up by United Way of Western Connecticut and the Newtown Savings Bank to provide support services to the affected families and community. Among other efforts, it will support day and night walk-in hours at the Newtown Youth and Family Services Counseling Center (http://www.newtownyouthandfamilyservices.org/).
-- The Newtown Rotary Sandy Hook School Fund (http://www.newtownctrotary.org/); PO Box 263, Newtown, CT 06470
Dedicated to supporting the immediate and long-term needs of those in the Newtown community who were affected by the Sandy Hook School shooting.
-- Individual victim funds
The families of several victims have asked that memorial contributions be made to a variety of favorite charities, and some have set up their own family funds. Among them are: the Victoria L. Soto Memorial Fund for Education, via the Adzima Funeral Home (http://www.adzimafuneralhome.com); the James R. Mattioli Memorial Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470; the Dylan Hockley Memorial Fund, 34 Charter Ridge Road, Sandy Hook, CT, 06482; Chase Kowalski Scholarship Fund, c/o People's Bank, 470 Monroe Tpke., Monroe, CT 06468.
There are more to come. The family of Ana Grace Marquez-Greene is working to establish arts and music scholarships in her name.
-- Volunteer. Grief counselors and others who want to volunteer their time in Newtown should call the state's emergency response number, (800) 203-1234 (just dial 211 from within Connecticut).
But not many volunteers are needed, says Isabelle Almeida of the United Way of Western Connecticut. "I would discourage people from coming into the community unless they already know how they are needed," she said. "It is already chaotic."