Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Social Media Helps Connect Supporters In Webster Tragedy

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Rochester: Social Media Helps Connect Supporters In Webster Tragedy
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Thousands of firefighters, law enforcement officers and supporters from around the country are expected to be here in our area for the calling hours and two funerals of the Webster firefighters who were shot and killed Christmas Eve morning. Many of those supporters are finding out information about where to go and what to do through the help of social media.




The Facebook page Prayers and Support for Webster Firefighters has more than 20,000 likes. It has become a kind of clearinghouse of information for those who want to know how to help.

Bill Benson created and manages the site. He lives in Missouri and heard about Webster on the national news. The photojournalist and volunteer says he's helped with these social media responses before and felt called to do it again.

"It struck on so many levels, of course after the tragic school shooting, being during the holidays and it's just such a shocking thing to have our first responders face that when trying to help other people out," said Benson.

Along with all the well-wishers on the pages, there are posts about all the hotel rooms being donated, others who are offering rides, even one woman who offered up her United Airline vouchers. And then there are the pictures of how people around the country and locally are remembering the fallen heroes.

Benson said he doesn't get paid to do this, and needs to spend all day working on it to field the three messages a minute he gets through the page.

"It's such a heartbreaking thing for the community and of course the families, and I would think that people want to look for some good to come out of tragedy and that's my hope in this case."

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