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June 12, 2016

How you can help victims of mass shooting at Florida gay nightclub

Americans awoke on Sunday to the news that the deadliest mass shooting on United States soil occurred in Orlando, Florida.

According to authorities, 29-year-old Omar Mateen entered Pulse, a gay nightclub, with an AR-15 assault rifle and other weapons. Gunfire rang out around 2 a.m. and when it ended, 50 people were killed and 53 more were injured.

Mateen, who authorities said had pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a 911 call shortly before the attack, died in a battle with SWAT team members.

As an investigation continues, here is how you can help:

Donate money

Many fundraising campaigns have been created to help with the victims' medical costs.

On CrowdRise, 'We Stand With Pulse' Victims Fund was created to benefit Planting Peace, a non-profit organization that focuses on LGBTQ rights advocacy. Donations will be donated for "funeral and medical costs for the victims of this senseless act."

Another page on CrowdRise was created that lists a variety of ways to help victims by "charitable causes that work to address issues of inequality and gun safety, and that help to protect our LGBTQ community."

On GoFundMe, the Pulse Tragedy Community Fund was created to benefit the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. The group has "organized the grief counseling for the coming months, deployed a crisis hotline, and directed resources for the community throughout the day."

Donate blood

If you are in the Philadelphia-area, a blood donation will not directly help victims of the shooting in Orlando.

In fact, so many people in Orlando tried to donate that OneBlood officials asked people to come back over the next several days.

Your local American Red Cross is always in need of donations. You can find a place to donate here.

Attend vigil

A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Philadelphia City Hall.

The event is being organized by Philadelphia Dyke March, a non-profit organization.

Contact elected officials

Have your voice heard and share your thoughts with your elected officials.

On the United States House of Representatives website, you can enter your ZIP code to find contact information for your representative.

On the United States Senate website, choose your state to find contact information for your senators.