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Valley organizations offer help after Boston Marathon bombings

Each time a tragedy occurs, whether caused by a natural disaster or a deliberate attack, people look for ways to help.

After the bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday, this attitude prevailed.

“This is an all-too familiar feeling to Americans,” said Rick Lee, director of the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. “There’s been a lot of people hurt and a lot of people feel heartbreak for the loss.”

But like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Lee said the need is complicated.

American Red Cross issued a statement that it has enough blood on shelves for patients being treated at Boston hospitals and also has the financial resources to handle the recovery.

Instead, the appeal is for the future. In a statement, the Boston chapter issued: ”We are asking those who want to help to make an appointment to give blood in the coming weeks and months. They can do that by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting redcrossblood.org.

Lee said his organization is deliberately maintaining a low profile but a compassionate presence.

“The reason the blood was there for victims who needed it is because people support Red Cross blood drives in the community,” Lee said.

In tribute, people can set up blood drives at their workplaces or support them when they are near work or home. Lee said this is particularly important as the summer months approach, when many are occupied with other things.

“The proper focus should be on the families who lost loved ones or who suffered horrific injuries yesterday,” Lee said.

In the aftermath, some organizations are exploring what they can do.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Athletic Club had several runners in the marathon, most of whom completed it.

Ron Hebert, membership secretary, said the organization will be holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss how it can help.

At UMass, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy issued a statement of condolences.

“In the days ahead we must stand together as a community to extend our support to all affected by this terrible tragedy,” he said.

Like the Red Cross, The Jimmy Fund, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are not making an appeal, but praised the “extraordinary number of people who have called to schedule a blood or platelet donation”

The donations will have more impact if done at a later date. “Please consider scheduling your donation in the coming week to help us replenish and maintain our supply of blood products for our patients at both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

People can send email to blooddonor@partners.org to schedule a donation or schedule a blood drive by calling 888-LETS-GIV (538-7448).

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