PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – Wednesday marks six weeks since confessed gunman Nikolas Cruz went on a shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, killing 17 people including 14 students.
Now as plans move forward for a permanent memorial, the temporary one in front of the school is coming down.
Wednesday morning volunteers began collecting the pinwheels, signs, teddy bears, and other mementos left at the makeshift memorial.
“I lost two friends and I feel like doing this and giving that stuff to their family, I think it’s good for them to have and I feel like it’s good for my community,” said Ella Singer.
As Singer packs up the cards and mementos she remembers her friends Jamie Guttenberg and Cara Loughran, both killed that day, both remembered by the community and the world. She said she found some comfort in reading the notes left at the site.
“It’s hard to see it and heartwarming at the same time, you see how much they were loved by everyone and how much they’ll be missed,” she said.
“It’s a little therapeutic, it makes us feel useful in a time where we feel useless, so we really just want to preserve the memories for the families,” she added.
Ella’s mom Kim also volunteered to help out. She like many have shed a lot of tears in front of this memorial.
“It’s overwhelming. I came this morning to take pictures, I cried my eyes out a little bit, and just want to do what’s best for the families,” she said. “If you could put in a box the outpouring of love that the world has for these families, it can’t go in a box, but that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Parkland Historical Society is in charge of the collection process. Every item is cataloged before taken away.
All the cards, mementos and notes will be boxed up.
One by one and with great care, the crosses and stars bearing the names and pictures of each of the victims were lowered into large boxes – put there for safe keeping.
“We’re honored to be here just to help preserve these items for the families and the friends, our hearts are with everyone here at Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” said Parkland resident Lauri Sokoloff.
Sokoloff and her friend Kathy Singer grew up in the area. They volunteered to help pack up the memorial, knowing that every item left at every monument has meaning.
“People come and they’ve all placed these items with love and with care and with sympathy and mourning and you do want to take care preserving them,” she said.
The mounds of flowers left at the site are not being thrown away. Instead they’ll be returned to the earth — used as fertilizer at community parks and gardens.
Jeff Schwartz, president of the historical society, said they were also responsible for the clean up of the temporary memorial earlier this month at Pine Trails Park. He said this one is a little harder for them emotionally but its a job they do with love and admiration for those lost.
“This is a little harder for everybody. This is the site of the terrible incident, the site where 17 beautiful people lost their lives, whether they’re children or adults, it doesn’t matter. This is the site of Parkland’s heartbreak right here,” said Jeff Schwartz, president of the historical society.
The items collected are being taken to Florida Atlantic University for safekeeping until they can be incorporated into a permanent memorial.