After violent attacks take place, onlookers near and far grapple with how they can or should get involved in the aftermath. There's often a very fine line between being supportive and overstepping boundaries, especially when grieving families are involved. One teacher from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has offered a gentle solution to those who might want to extend a hand: write down your message of support. If you want to help survivors of the Parkland shooting, she says a few kind words would go a long way.
In a Facebook post shared as a screenshot on Twitter, history teacher Diane Rogers asked that those who wish to send written messages of support for students to read when they return to school. Initially, she requested individual letters, but after an outpouring of support, officials from the high school asked for laminated banners, instead. In her original post, dated on Friday, Feb. 16, she wrote:
Our kids are amazing and they want to get back to school and continue learning, but first they need time to just be together and begin the process of healing. I would like to greet them all on the first day back with letters of support from fellow [AP World History students.] Not the email kind or the texting kind but real letters handwritten and signed by kids from our amazing community. I want them to hold the envelopes addressed from around the world to see that they are not alone and there is still kind and caring people in this world.
By Monday, Feb. 19, officials from the high school asked on their website that those who would still like to send letters would opt to send group posters and banners, instead. "In lieu of gifts and individual notes, please send a laminated banner with your well wishes to be displayed on campus for our staff, students and community," they wrote.
The online bulletin also offered several additional ways to offer support to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community. One suggested way was to make a donation on the official GoFundMe page for victims of the shooting. "There are no words to express the sorrow that we are all feeling," moderators for the GoFundMe page wrote. "Donations raised here will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific shooting."
According to the page, donations are being managed by Broward Education Foundation, a nonprofit which raises money for the school system. The fundraisers' goal is $2 million.
Additionally, those who would like to make "in-kind" donations, i.e. the donation of specifically needed objects or services, are instructed to contact Lori Sessions at email@example.com.
If finances are an issue, words of support can also be shared on social media, per the school's instruction. Supporters are rallying together under the hashtag #MSDStrong.
As of Monday, Broward County Schools have not announced when Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will re-open for regularly scheduled classes. In the interim, a group of students are insisting that they will not return until gun laws are altered in a way that would help prevent another school shooting from taking place.
Participating students are organizing under a movement they are calling "Never Again MSD."
"Too many politicians are taking money from the NRA," 17 year-old MSD student Alex Wind told The Washington Post in a Q&A interview about the movement. "It’s not a political issue; it’s an issue of action. It’s not specifically about Democrats or Republicans. It’s about sending a message that if you receive money from the NRA, you will not be receiving a single vote from Parkland, [Florida]."
Expressing support for survivors is a delicate action, but when messages are delivered in the right way, they can serve to remind the grieving that, no matter what, they are not alone. If you have a moment and are able to do so, taking a moment to share a kind thought with the Parkland community could be an essential selfless act to help brighten someone's day.