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PARKLAND (CBSMiami) – At Pine Trails Park in Parkland it was a Day of Service and Love as people gathered to remember the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High students and staff members who died in a mass shooting a year ago to the day.
Broward County Public Schools sponsored a service activity in memory of those who died.
Just after noon students and staff began assembling meal kits for Feed My Starving Children, which will distribute them to malnourished children around the world.
“I think doing this makes us, takes our minds off of things and helps us give back to the community, all the people who gave to us,” said MSD student Savannah Azar.
On a day like today, Azar said she’s grateful to be working on this service project, something positive, keeping her mind from going back to a year ago, instead focused on something good.
“Today is a day of remembrance of them, their lives, not how they died, but them, like we should remember who they were, not who the killer was,” she said.
Azar and many of her classmates are working hard to lessen the fear and pain they feel every day, hoping events like this will help.
“I want to remember something that changed my life forever, but I think of how it changed me to be a better person over the negative things, like being scared to go outside or go to school,” she said.
The park is also hosting the volunteer group Hands on Broward’s “Parkland Hearts Project.” Over the last year, the group collected heartfelt messages from around the world. They were then displayed on panels to honor each of the 17 who died. The panels in the park are set up as a walkway in one section of the park.
Connie Forti and Diana Cortez are teacher’s assistants at Stoneman Douglas. They’re strolled through the Parkland Hearts Art Project remembering those who were taken from them. Today has been difficult.
“We were a family, our family’s gone. Part of our family is gone. We have to deal with it every day when we walk through the school, we walk past that building. It’s still standing there,” said Forti.
For them, it helps to have this art project, filled with pictures and message filled hearts from all over the world. It keeps their missing loved ones a bit closer.
“Just never forget those who have left, keep them close to your heart and pray for their parents and loved ones,” said Cortez.
This evening, the City of Parkland will hold an interfaith ceremony for the community at 5:45 p.m. The service will last 30 minutes. Governor Ron DeSantis will lay a wreath at Douglas High before attending the ceremony.
The park will be open all day offering therapy dogs and counselors.
The city is asking the public to bring canned food in support of service efforts.