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How you can help the people of Paris

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PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 16: People observe a minute of silence near the Bataclan concert hall on November 16, 2015 in Paris, France. A Europe-wide one-minute silence was held at 12pm CET today in honour of at least 129 people who were killed last Friday in a series of terror attacks in the French capital. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

When tragedies like the Paris attacks happen, people want to help. In most cases the most pressing need for aid organizations is financial.

Donating items like flowers or stuffed animals presents a storage and a disposal issue. Despite good intentions, many of the stuffed animals donated after the shootings at Sandy Hook were ground up and used as landfill.

There are several well established organizations with proven track records:

The French Red Cross is reaching out to victims to help with their immediate needs. Financial donations help them do their work.

Doctors Without Borders helps refugees and with medical needs around the world,

Secours Populaire helps people who fights against poverty and exclusion in France and throughout the World through emergency aid for food, shelter, support, and clothing.

For people who are traveling to or from France who have had their plans disrupted there are options:

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program helps travelers stay in contact with the U.S. Embassy in the country where they are traveling. The Embassy can use the information to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

Travelers who are stranded can find housing through AirBnB.

Protect yourself:

As always, be careful who you donate to. There are many scams that pop up after tragedy strikes. Be wary of unsolicited email or social media requests, they are likely to be a scam. Especially if you’ve never dealt with the charity before. The same goes for door to door requests.

Research the organization and make sure you are donating at the correct web address. Do not use a link in an email, it could redirect to a fake site.

Do not give to charities that call you, ask for information by mail if you want to donate.

Click here for more on the Paris attacks.