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SUNY Oswego Professor Organizes Holiday Card Drive for Children Affected by Shootings Across US

A SUNY Oswego Associate Professor of Criminal Justice is leading an effort this holiday season to comfort surviving kids who have lost loved ones in shootings across the US and let them know that others are thinking of them.  About 50 to 75 cards are sent to each kid. 

Jackie Schildkraut says the cards recently went out.

“Kids in Vegas and also a little boy in Sutherland Spring, but we’ve also added in all of the kids in Parkland who lost siblings or parents, and then we’re collecting more generally for the communities of Newtown, Aurora, Orlando and Santa Fe.”

The program is known as ‘Cards for Kids by Jackie’ and people connect by mailing in their cards from the US, Canada and internationally. 

“One lady is extremely creative and she made handmade pop-up cards, which were really, really cool. It’s not really about how much you spend or anything like that, it’s really about the messaging inside, and the fact that people took the time to write even just ‘Happy Holidays’ to these kids. I think it really goes a very long way for them to think about how many people are in their corner and cheering them on, all things considered.”

The reactions of surviving kids getting holiday cards from people they don’t even know can be quite an unexpected surprise.  Schildkraut heard from the friend of Tara Roe Smith who died in 2017 during a country music concert in Las Vegas.  She is survived by two little boys.

“We sent cards to her two little boys, and one of her best friends happen to find me and say not only did it turn their day around, but if Tara were still here, she’d be doing this with us.”

Schildkaut grew up in Parkland, Florida and that shooting tragedy was particularly difficult for her to fathom this year.

“They don’t get to just move on, and so I think by doing something like this, we’re able to show them that we didn’t move on, we didn’t forget and we still support them and we still honor their loved ones.”

This year the program received 300 cards from District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick’s Office alone. To learn more about the program, look for the Cards for Kids by Jackie on Facebook.