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Boston bombing aftermath: How you can help

The gentle golden retrievers are lending a "helping paw," visiting the injured victims of the Boston Marathon bombings to offer companionship, comfort and compassion.  NBC's Kerry Sanders reports.

By Suzanne Choney, Contributing Writer, NBCNews.com

Since Monday, both traditional and new organizations have offered help and support to those hurt physically and emotionally by the deadly blasts at the Boston Marathon.

The American Red Cross of Eastern Massachusetts says it's served 5,000 meals and snacks. A new group, The One Fund, announced by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino, has been set up to get money to the families of those killed and most severely wounded.

Three people died in the explosions: 8-year-old Martin Richard, and Krystle Marie Campbell, 29, both of Massachusetts; and Lingzi Lu, a Boston University graduate student from China, and 176 were injured.

As reported by NBC News Wednesday, the total medical cost to help those requiring rehabilitation, additional surgeries and treatment to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder may reach or surpass $9 million.

You can help. Here's how:

The American Red Cross, Eastern Massachusetts
Since Monday, the Red Cross has "provided about 500 units of blood and blood products to hospitals in the Boston area," the organization says on its website. "Blood supplies are currently sufficient to meet patient needs and people who want to give blood are strongly encouraged to schedule a donation appointment in the days and weeks ahead."

The One Fund Boston
The fund will act as a central repository to "receive much needed financial support," Gov. Patrick said Tuesday in a statement. "At moments like this, we are one state, one city and one people."

Within an hour of the explosions, Mayor Menino said in a statement he had calls from business leaders and philanthropists "who, like me, were heartbroken by the impact this hideous tragedy" had on individuals and families, and wanted to do something about it.

As of Wednesday, officials said, more than $7 million has been pledged to The One Fund by corporate partners and individuals. Individuals have contributed more than $500,000 so far.

The John Hancock company has pledged $1 million, and there are other commitments for contributions from the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox and Bain Capital.

On April 20, AT&T said customers who want to support One Fund can text the word BOSTON to 80108 to donate $10. The donation will be reflected on customers' monthly AT&T bill.

The Amputee Coalition
Members from this national organization are working with Boston hospitals that are treating patients. The coalition works regularly to raise awareness about amputees, create peer mentorship programs and has a summer program for children with limb differences. To learn more, visit the coalition's main website here.

Challenged Athletes Foundation
This foundation is also working with those injured Monday. The group says its mission is to help those with physical disabilities pursue "active lifestyles," and provide funding for adaptive equipment, hold clinics to build confidence and sponsor mentorship programs.

Limbs for Life Foundation
The Oklahoma City-based group provides prosthetic care for those who otherwise can't afford it.

And a note of caution ...
If you are looking to donate money, heed what Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Wednesday: Watch out for scammers. Potential donors, she said, need to "protect themselves from fundraising scams claiming to benefit those affected by this week's tragedy." You can read more here.

The Federal Trade Commission also issued some guidance about donations. You can find more information here and additional guidance here.

Additional reporting by Courtney Hazlett and Melissa Dahl 

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