The City of Parkland called it a Day of Service and Love, an observance marking two years since the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that left 17 students and teachers dead.
Along with a 30-minute ceremony Friday at Pine Trails Park, an art installation near the amphitheater honored the victims, and service projects took place in the recreation building.
“It’s all about who they really were as people, who they were as unique individuals, what they brought to this world — and we’ve lost a lot,” Amy McCabe said after viewing the art exhibit called the Parkland Hearts Art Project.
There was a decorated board or panel dedicated to each of the victims.
McCabe is a chaplain with the American Red Cross’ disaster spiritual care team. She said she’s worked with the Parkland families since the tragedy. She said she came to pay her respects again and pray for the community and country.
”We just need to be really aware of the level of pain that people are experiencing, and just try to be very respectful of that — let them have the space that they need,” she said.
“To see their stories, to see what everyone wrote, is impressive,” said Tatiana Castano, a family therapist who’s worked with some of the kids who lost their friends.
Castano said she was available should someone need support.
“Even families who were not directly impacted, we’re all impacted by this,” she said.
Several hundred volunteers turned out in the park’s gymnasium to package food to send to people in Haiti.
“It’s really cool that we’re like packing lunches, or dinners, or whatever, for the people that need it,” said 12-year old Dylan Miller, who along with his brothers and mother, joined one of the food packing assembly lines.
“It feels good, because today, as you know, is a sad day, but we’re making it into a good day by spreading kindness,” said Jordan Miller, Dylan’s twin brother.
“(This is) to celebrate the memory of those 17, but to do something purposeful on this very sad day,” said Ed Raine, CEO of Food for the Poor, based in neighboring Coconut Creek.
Food for the Poor, along with Feed My Starving Children, organized the service event.
They expected the volunteers to churn out 116,000 food packs, carefully designed to provide important nutrition.
“This is a big deal for the people of Haiti to receive this,” Raine said.