Gunfire erupted inside an elementary school classroom in San Bernardino last week, leaving two adults and one student dead in what the authorities said was an apparent murder-suicide.
The shooter walked into a classroom and without speaking opened fire on his wife, who was the lead teacher in a classroom of 15 students with special needs, who ranged from first to fourth graders.
Two students were standing behind their teacher were wounded. An eight-year-old student was airlifted by helicopter from the school, North Park Elementary, to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived. A nine-year-old student was also wounded and was in stable condition last week.
Gun violence has become an epidemic in the United States. As of April 16th, there has been 102 mass shootings, 4,399 shooting deaths, 8,557 gunshot injuries, 1,093 children (under 18) shot, and 80 police officers shot.
It can seem overwhelming when confronted with statistics like those, but two sisters from Apopka have decided to take action.
Re’Anna and Raegan Love learned that Timber Creek High School students were sending stuffed animals to the children at North Park Elementary. The sisters decided to contribute to their efforts. Re’Anna is a 14-year-old and goes to Apopka Memorial Middle School. She is in eighth grade. Raegan is 10-years-old and goes to Radiant Life Academy in Orlando. She is in fifth grade.
“I saw what happened in San Bernardino, California,” Re’anna said. “My sister, Raegan and I wanted to donate stuffed animals. Timber Creek High School was doing an amazing job in donating stuffed animals to the North Park Elementary students. I know friends and family (in San Bernardino) are having a hard time right now. Giving them stuffed animals is a great idea.”
The Love sisters have family tragedies of their own, which help them to understand the pain the children in San Bernardino are going through. In the span of 12 months, they have experienced the loss of six family members. One to homicide, one to suicide, and the others to cancer and prolonged illnesses.
“They have experienced more than their share of pain,” said their father Rod Love. “I am proud that they are reaching out to make a difference. I am proud that they are paying attention to what’s happening in the world around them and paying it forward and hope that it becomes contagious.”
According to their father, they donated approximately 100 stuff mini sized bears.
“They saved up their pennies through birthdays, Christmas, good grade rewards and they purchased the stuffed animals, he said.”
Re’Anna hopes the stuffed animals will provide comfort and let them know people outside their community care about them.
“It shows them that we care and want to see them happy again,” she said. “It shows them that they are not alone. That we are here for them. That they don’t have to go through this pain alone. I’ve lost people in my past and I know how it feels when you lose the people that you love. Losing someone is the worst feeling ever to feel. It feels like someone is ripping a piece of your heart out. It’s devastating. We just want all the kids at North Park Elementary to just be kids. We are praying for you all.”