Baljit Singh, an Orlando restaurateur, has been working the phones since he came to know of the mass shootings at Pulse nightclub to offer his Sikh community’s help any way he can.
“We want to be in the first row to tell Orlando we are a part of the community and are ready and willing to help,” he said on phone, adding he had been asked by authorities to wait.
Orlando’s Sikhs — an estimated 125 families — have offered help through their two gurdwaras to the local administration in the aftermath of the killing of 49 people by Omar Mateen, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
“We want to help any which way we can,” said Harjit Singh, a priest at Gurdwara Nanaksar Florida, which caters to the community in Orlando and the adjoining city of Kissimmee.
The Sikhs have offered to raise money for food and donate blood for the injured, Singh said. And plans are afoot for a candle-light procession to demonstrate “our support to the community”.
Baljit Singh, who has been in the US for 31 years and in Orlando since 2002, said authorities have asked the community to wait for the situation to settle down.
“We were told specifically not to proceed with the candle-light vigil given the security situation and a high state of anxiety all around, even in the administration,” he said.
The restaurateur, who once ran World Sikh TV network, said he has been in touch with OneBlood, a blood bank accepting donations for treating the wounded.
The response to blood donation calls has been so overwhelming that OneBlood issued an appeal to prospective donors to return in a few days.
An official at the second gurudwara, Sikh Society of Central Florida, said, “Our doors are open for the survivors or relatives and we trying to contact them or groups helping them.”