Update: Students in the town of West are back in class today for the first time since Wednesday’s deadly fertilizer plant explosion. Some school buildings were destroyed or damaged by the blast.
Older students are taking classes at an old school building in a nearby district. Some younger students are in portable classrooms. STAAR exams scheduled for Tuesday there are being delayed. For those who'd like to donate, the West Independent School District says monetary donations are best.
Financial contributions work best because the district doesn't have the storage space to take in a lot of material donations.
Update (April 19, 1:24 p.m.): The 100 Club of Central Texas has put together a fund to assist first responders and their families in West.
The group says that while its primary purpose is to serve first responders in Central Texas, they are reaching out to those who put their lives on the line in West. Some made the ultimate sacrifice.
The group says all donations will be provided to the McLennan 100 Club to be dispersed to those directly affected by the disaster.
Donations can be made online or by mail. Checks should be made payable to 100 Club of Central Texas with the notation “West First Responder." They should be mailed to:
100 Club of Central Texas
3200 Steck Avenue, Suite 240
Austin, TX 78757
All contributions are tax-deductible.
Update (April 18, 5:21 p.m.): The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas has reached its limit of donations for today, and are asking donors on their Facebook page to come in next week.
Instead, those looking to help the victims in West can donate to local charities sponsoring relief efforts:
- The Austin Disaster Relief Network is working with the American Red Cross to provide assistance in West for victims on the ground. They are also encouraging donations on its website, ADRNTX.org. The American Red Cross of Central Texas is also asking for donations on its website.
- The Salvation Army of Austin is asking for donations for relief assistance for victims of the West fertilizer plant explosion. Donations can be sent by mail to P.O. Box 1000 Austin, Texas 78767 or can be made online at SalvationArmyAustin.org.
- A community group has created a Facebook page to reunite families with pets displaced by the West explosion today. The page invites West citizens to post pictures of any pets they may have lost or found following the explosion. Dozens of photos from local shelters and residents show dogs, cats and livestock either missing or found wandering the area. Animal shelters in need of assistance and other shelters willing to take in animals have also posted information on the page.
Update (April 18, 12:46 p.m.): The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas has received an outpouring of donations today.
“So far, we’ve seen over 90 people come in to donate today,” said spokesperson Cynthia Rowe. “And on a normal day we usually see approximately 20 [people] at this time.”
However, Rowe advised that donors spread out their donations, as the bank needs time to replenish their reserves. Further donations have not been requested from Carter Blood Care, the Dallas-based blood bank providing services to victims in West.
“We are encouraging donors [that] not everyone come today, unless you’re an O negative blood donor … so that we will have a stable blood supply at all times,” Rowe said.
Update (April 18, 11:03 a.m.): Due to increased demand, the Central Texas Blood and Tissue Center cannot make their mobile blood bank available for the blood drive on UT campus today.
Students from the UT Academy of Student Pharmacists who organized the drive said on their Facebook page that they plan on rescheduling the drive.
Original Post (April 18, 10:05 a.m.): Austinites looking for ways to help the victims of the West fertilizer plant victims are being encouraged to donate blood.
Austin Area Blood Donations:
The Blood and Tissue Center of Central Texas has added extra staff for blood donations but is encouraging donors to spread out donations unless they are type "O" - or universal blood donors. Donors can call ahead for an appointment or stop by the mobile donation center at their North Lamar location.
Both locations will be open tonight until 6 pm.
Austin Donor Center
4300 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756
Round Rock Donor Center
2132 North Mays, Suite 900
Round Rock, TX 78664
University of Texas students will also be holding a blood drive on campus today from 1 to 4 pm in front of the Gregory Gym.
The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas will not be accepting donations for victims at this time, but is encouraging direct donations.
The Central Texas American Red Cross is encouraging online donations on their website also.