On Sunday morning, a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 50 and leaving another 53 critically injured. The gunman has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mir Seddique Mateen.
After what has been labeled the “worst mass shooting on U.S. soil,” hearts are breaking across the nation over yet another violent act of terrorism.
However, in the wake of the city’s tragic aftermath, the citizens of Orlando are joining together to support their community in a beautiful way. Thousands waited in line Sunday afternoon in the blistering heat to donate blood after hospital officials pleaded the public for help.
As lines wrapped around the buildings, one Facebook user, Heather Anne Naples, wrote that she couldn’t “hold back the tears.”
She captured this image of the winding line, and posted it along with these heartfelt words:
When tragedies like what happened here in Orlando last night make me question the type of world we are living in it is moments like this that give me hope. As I am standing in line waiting to donate blood, a line that is completely wrapped around the building, I can’t hold back my tears. In the wake of a horrible, hate filled tragedy this line represents nothing but love.
“I’ve been here 13 years and never seen a response like this,” said Pat Michaels, an employee of OneBlood.
In fact, the lines were so extensive that news cameras could only capture them in their entirety from the air.
On top of the overwhelming support flooding in at blood centers filled to max capacity, the citizens of Orlando have also been getting supplies for donation drives spearheaded by the University of Central Florida.
Publix, a local grocery store, also supplied snacks and drinks to volunteers waiting to give blood as well as to the families of victims. Hundreds of anguished families were left waiting at hospitals and outside of Pulse nightclub to hear about the fate of their loved ones.
In addition to help from citizens and local businesses, the Orlando police stated that they have received an outpouring of support from across the country.
“We’ve received an enormous amount of tactical Law Enforcement support from local, state and Federal agencies. The outpouring we have received from our Central Florida community and Law Enforcement across the nation and the world, has overwhelmed me with gratitude,” wrote Orlando Police Chief John Mina. “Our First Responders and SWAT Team faced a hail of gunfire as they rescued the hostages, and we are blessed beyond words that none of them were gravely injured or killed.”
Prayer vigils are being held throughout the week as Orlando continues to grieve in this time of unthinkable tragedy.
Though the devastation unleashed in Orlando this weekend is horrific, seeing this level of support pour out from so many directions restores a little faith in humanity.
As stated by Fred Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”
Amidst the hate-filled crimes we can’t control, it is this unity in love that has the power to restore the broken hearts of America.