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On the morning of June 12, 2016, people lined up at a local blood bank in St. Petersburg, Florida, ready to wait for hours.

Following the deadly overnight attacks at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that left (at the time of writing) 50 dead and another 53 wounded, local blood banks and hospitals put out calls for blood donations to help treat the injured.

People turned up in droves.


FBI agents outside Pulse nightclub June 12 in Orlando, Florida, after a fatal shooting and hostage situation. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

Just over 100 miles west of Orlando in St. Petersburg, a city known for hosting Florida's largest Pride parade each year, the wait to donate blood at one OneBlood location topped two hours — with dozens more donors making appointments to come back later in the week.

Families arrived together, with teenagers asking how old they had to be to donate too. Family members and spouses of OneBlood employees came to take names for appointment times and hand out snacks and water. Donors volunteered to bring more supplies. Everyone was looking for any way they could find to help — no matter how small.

Though OneBlood's Sunday hours usually end at noon, the organization pledged to stay open as long as donors were still in line.

Here are what 13 blood donors in St. Petersburg had to say in their own words:

1. "We have to show the world there is more good in it than bad."

"I'm donating because we have to show the world there is more good in it than bad. Hate is NOT the answer." — Jamie, St. Petersburg. Photos by Caitlin Duffy/Upworthy.

2. "I want to help make a difference."

"I’m donating because I’m a nurse and I want to help make a difference." — Mallory, 25, Pinellas Park, Florida.

3. "I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence."

"My name is Julien Turner, I'm here on vacation in St. Petersburg, visiting my sisters and mother. I'm currently living in Portsmouth, NH. I believe that the tragic event in Orlando last night highlights our nation's increasing problem of gun violence, which calls for solidarity of Americans in general, and domestic violence at large. I'd like to support the victims in the best way possible, by giving blood per The American Red Cross' request." — Julien, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

4. "I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected."

"In the wake of the Orlando Pulse tragedy, I felt compelled to do anything I could to help those affected. When I received the text from One Blood saying my blood type was scarce, I knew immediately that I should be donating today!" — Karla, 29, St. Petersburg.

5. "There is a crisis within our Community right now."

"My wife and I are donating because there is a crisis within our Community right now. We feel the best way we can help is by donating blood. Our thoughts are with our fellow lgbtsq's and thier families." — Erin and Andrea, 40 and 39, St. Petersburg.

6. "Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act."

"I felt a strong responsibility to help when I heard the news this morning. Regardless of any reasons of why, or other speculations on the shooter, I'm doing this to help those who were affected by this horrible act. If my donation can help, I want to help. I'm sure many here share the same sentiments. #PrayForOrlando." — Jennifer, 34, St. Petersburg.

7. "I feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community."

"Im donating today because i feel helpless in the face of this targeted attack against the lgbtq community" — Chris, 32, St. Petersburg.

8. "People like me deserve to live in safety and health."

"Im giving blood because im queer and people like me deserve to live in safety and health." — Keeli, 20, St. Petersburg.

9. "God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action."

"I’m donating because it’s an easy way to help make a difference in response to such a senseless tragedy. God not only calls us to pray in times like these, but He also calls us to action." — Kelsey, 24, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

10. "I am donating because my heart aches."

“I am donating because my heart aches for these kids that were tragically taken away last night." — Frank, St. Petersburg.

11. "I'm donating because I wanted to do something positive."

"I’m donating because I wanted to do something positive in the midst of all the horror." — Michelle, 54, St. Petersburg.

12. "I want to help in the only way I know."

"I am donating because I want to help in the only way I know during the tragic time." — Lisa, 33, Largo, Florida.

13. "We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear."

"I am donating blood as a way to fight against hate. This attack in Orlando was a targeted attack against a group that already feels a lot of pressure and fear just to be themselves. We cannot let ourselves and our culture to be controlled by hate and fear. While I am not part of the LGBT community myself, I have many wonderful family members, friends and co-workers that are, and this is a way to support them. My little bit of time and blood can save a life, and this is the most ethical thing I can do." — Evan, 22, St. Petersburg.

In the wake of a tragedy, there are always people willing to help in any way they can.

On June 12, 2016, over 50 families woke up to the worst kind of phone call. The families of others waited, terrified, outside a hospital for news of their loved ones.

The blood, platelets, and plasma donated by strangers in the wake of this, the deadliest mass shooting in American history, will help hospitals treat not just the victims and survivors of the attack on Pulse nightclub, but those injured by gun violence tomorrow and in the future as well.

That's what makes everyone who turned out at blood donation centers — and the compassion that motivated them to do so in the wake of this attack on the LGBTQ community — so important, so necessary, and so appreciated.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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