*Updated April 16 with additional avenues for assistance*
The worst part of watching the horrible news with the astounding images and staggering numbers of dead, injured, and homeless in Abruzzo is the feeling of helplessness. We are not that far away and yet we can't go there and offer solace or comfort, or pitch in to dig through the rubble.
However, several organizations have mobilized to offer assistance. A small donation of cash or blood can be an invaluable comfort to the tens of thousands who are mourning loved ones and lost homes. Here is how you can help:
The National Italian American Foundation has set up a special relief fund, and donations from the US are tax deductable.
The Croce Rosse is the Italian Red Cross; donations can be made online.
Caritas is one of Italy's primary charitable organizations, operated by the Catholic Church. Donations can be made by bank transfer.
If you are in Italy and want to donate blood, the AVIS blood bank wants you al più presto!
*Updated April 12**
If you would like to make a donation by credit card, you can call +39-023-498-0235, a hotline sponsored jointly by Corriere della Sera and Gazzetta dello Sport, two national newspapers.
From within Italy you can send an instant 1 euro donation from you cell phone credit by sending a text message to number 48580.
*Updated April 16*
Save The Children has entered the tendopoli to assess the most pressing needs of the children, to make sure they are properly clothed and housed, and to try to get them back to school as quickly as possible.
Another way for travelers in Italy to donate is through the SuperEnalotto. Sisal, the company that administers the lottery, has introduced a special ticket game with proceeds to go to the quake victims. Tickets can be purchased in increments of 1, 3, or 5 euro from any outlet that sells lotto tickets, indicated with the SISAL logo on their signs.
Despite the destruction and broken lives, there are some heartwarming stories emerging, too. Hop over to Italian Notebook for a short sampling.
Thank you all for your emails of concern...they were most touching.