OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego criminal justice faculty member Jaclyn Schildkraut is once again coordinating an effort to send thousands of holiday cards to children impacted by mass shootings.
“We have 74 kids who lost parents/stepparents/grandparents/siblings in Las Vegas, Parkland (Florida) and Aurora (Colorado),” Schildkraut explained. “We are also collecting community cards — more general in nature — for Aurora, Newtown (Sandy Hook), Orlando (Pulse), Santa Fe, El Paso, Dayton, Midland/Odessa, and Pittsburgh.”
The effort has gained momentum year after year: In its first year, 2017, Schildkraut said 2,036 were distributed, rising to nearly 10,000 in 2018.
“We’re looking to collect as many as possible this year, with a goal of 15,000 to 20,000 because the number of impacted communities keeps growing,” Schildkraut said. “Cards can be homemade or store-bought, people can write as many or as few as they want. Every bit of love helps!”
As of Nov. 24, the campaign had more than 5,000 cards pledged toward the 2019 goal.
Schildkraut continues to be amazed with the generosity that comes for the campaign. “We get cards from all over America and even Canada,” she said. “People from campus get involved, as well as complete strangers.”
The effort began when Schildkraut wanted to bring some relief to children who lost parents in the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 and injured another 546. She would later add those impacted by a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which killed 26 and injured 20 on Nov. 5, 2017. The project has grown to include children who lost siblings and parents in the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members while injuring 17 others.
The goal is to have all cards sent to Schildkraut by Dec. 15 to make the Dec. 20 postal deadline.
For Schildkraut, the topic is not just one of academic interest, but is personal. She used to live in Orlando, so the shooting at the Pulse nightclub hit close to home, as did Parkland, the area where she grew up — although every such incident brings her sadness as well as media requests.
Schildkraut’s books include the January 2019 release of “Columbine: 20 Years and Beyond: Lessons from Tragedy,” which focuses on the victims and community impacted by that momentous shooting and the long-range effects of it, with proceeds benefiting the Columbine Memorial.
“For me, it’s always about giving back, and in this season, the cards project not only shows people that we care, but brings so many friends and strangers together in doing something good,” Schildkraut said.
For more information on how to help, email [email protected] or visit Facebook.com/CardsForKidsByJackie.