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Moms and Students demand action with ‘Wear Orange’ event

May 28, 2019

Two groups in The Woodlands are gearing up to host the community’s first formal event dedicated to gun violence awareness. From 10 a.m. to noon June 8 at Northshore Park in The Woodlands, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action have joined forces to put on a “Wear Orange” family event and blood drive.

Jane Kelso Winter, a group leader for the local nonpartisan Moms Demand Action chapter, is a co-organizer for the event.

“’Wear Orange’ is a national event dedicated to honoring survivors of gun violence. We’re also trying to elevate the voices of Americans working to end gun violence,” Winter said, explaining that the event began as a way to honor 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who was shot and killed in Chicago just one week after performing at former President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade in 2013.

Orange was Pendleton’s favorite color, so participants are encouraged to wear orange shirts the day of the event, which falls right after National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Last year, the Montgomery County participants drove down to Houston’s event. But now, as their group has grown, Winter said it was time to step up and host their own event in a more central location for their members from all over Montgomery County.

“It shows that there are people here who support this in their own neighborhood. This is a very serious topic, but I’m excited to get the message out to people who may not come to our meetings,” Winter said.

At the event, they’ll have stories from survivors and speakers, poetry readings and visual memorial displays. Volunteers will also be there to talk with attendees about how to safely lock and store their weapons as well as how issues like domestic violence and suicide are connected to gun violence.

“Just a little bit of awareness may save some lives,” Winter said.

The group chose to have Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center come out to the park for the blood drive portion of the event. A blood drive seemed appropriate, Winter said, for two reasons.

“Blood donations significantly decrease during the summer, and also gunshot wound victims need 10 times as much blood when receiving a blood transfusion. (They also) are five times more likely to need a blood transfusion than other patients,” Winter said.

One of the Students Demand Action Montgomery County group leaders, Rebecca Fox, is helping to organize the event. Her group is focused on preparing children’s activities for the day, such as arts and crafts and games.

Fox said she’s looking forward to a fun day learning about ways to prevent gun violence with her community.

“I am very excited to be part of planning this event as the first Wear Orange ( in The Woodlands. I think it will bring a lot of attention and start a lot of conversation in our town with new people that don’t know a lot about gun violence or don’t know how they could get involved,” Fox said.

Community partners such as local religious leaders and school district police are to attend to speak or answer questions. Joining in a colorful way is the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, which is to be lit up orange the day of the event.

Also in partnership, The Woodlands Township board of directors recently passed a proclamation that makes the first Friday in June National Gun Violence Awareness Day in the township.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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