CLAY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - A musical festival turned tragic on Oct. 1 in Las Vegas when a mass shooting claimed the lives of 58 people and left more than 500 people injured.
Not long after, Las Vegas resident Tanya Pekes started #58BenefitsOfGratitude to keep the names and memories of the 58 victims fresh in the minds of people everywhere. Pekes does not want them to be forgotten, especially as the holiday season approaches.
Pekes arranged for people across the country to adopt the families for Christmas by donating gifts and holiday cards.
In her everyday work as an assistant professor at SUNY Oswego and author who researched mass shootings, Jaclyn Schildkraut was also doing her part to keep the names of the victims in constant conversations on her social media.
Schildkraut says she refuses to let another mass shooting's victims be forgotten and so, she joined Pekes in her holiday tribute.
"I adopted a family of three boys and from there it's sort of just spun off," Schildkraut said. "My students were looking for some last-minute points -- they wrote some cards. Then, I sent out a couple emails and one random Facebook post sort of took on a life of its own for the card campaign."
Now, Schildkraut has at least a dozen cards for each child and she says many are still arriving. She is also receiving calls and emails about cards that are on the way.
Gathering the holiday cards is not only Schildkraut's way of helping give back, but she also wants the awareness for victims and their families to continue.
Her kitchen has a bin for each family. There are 44 children who lost a parent or a grandparent after the mass the shooting.
"Doing what I do, there's a lot of darkness," Schildkraut said. "Being able to give back to the children who lost their families, and mainly parents, it kind of finds those bright corners in what I do."
As families of victims who were killed or injured continue to heal -- Schildkraut says she hopes these small gestures will help them through the holidays.
"They lost something that they can never get back," Schildkraut said. "If something breaks, like a toy, you can go to the store and get a new one, but you can never replace your mom. I think with this outpouring of support...is going to show them that they are still thought about. They are still cared about and loved and that people all over the country are thinking about them and sending them some warm holiday wishes to get them through these hard times."
Schildkraut is still accepting holiday cards for the children and will continue to do so through Friday, Dec. 15.
If you would like to send cards to specific children or would like to adopt a family for Christmas -- email Jaclyn.Schildkraut@oswego.edu.
Cards can be mailed to:
P.O. Box 368
Clay, NY 13041
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