UVALDE, TX – This story refers to suicide. If you or someone you know is having difficulty, you can reach the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.
Communities united in tragedy – the community of Parkland wraps its arms around the community of Uvalde.
“Two like toddlers, then two kids, then a couple of adults, are you okay? Alright you wanna come park here and I’ll meet you here okay,’ Pastor Nolan McLaughlin told a family in their car.
“Dear Uvalde…I love Parkland” — this message printed on black shirts, the two cities linked in tragedy.
These life boxes are distributed at the civic center of Uvalde. They are filled with items to help the community grieve. The boxes were assembled by a church with an intimate understanding of this pain…they were affected by the 2018 Parkland, Florida shootings pic.twitter.com/iBMacE1fUn
— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) June 27, 2022
“Our church hosted six of the funerals there. And I attended with some of our employees all of the funerals and so when this happened here I thought to myself, we have to do something because we have experienced first hand the pain in the community that takes place said McLaughlin.
Pastor McLaughlin lived two miles from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a 19-year-old gunman.
McLaughlin now lives in San Antonio and works at Motion Church. The Robb Elementary massacre brought back all-too-familiar feelings of grief.
“Often after tragedies like this, suicides have taken place and we think one more suicide is too much. So we want them to choose life and know that they are loved and that some people in Florida and some people in San Antonio love them,” McLaughlin said.
The boxes are called Lifeboxes, a mantra held by founder Heather Palacios. She has struggled with suicidal thoughts since she was eight years old.
“I know what it’s like to live in a community where there’s been immeasurable tragedy and I can’t fix anything, but I can do something small for anyone who’s on the verge of giving up,” Palacios, founder of Wondherful.org and says Lifeboxes.
So they got to work. San Antonio Church packed 600 boxes with help from Parkland Church.
The boxes are separated by age group and they are also available in English and Spanish.
Each one is lovingly composed, with a handwritten note inside for the person opening it.
“Dear Children of Texas, I hope you are doing well and recovering from the trauma you have suffered and I hope you have a great summer. Sincerely, Nathan Coral Springs, Florida,” Palacios said while reading a note in the box.
Each has a Bible, journal, pen and other items to let the opener know they are not alone.
For Donny Ray Valdez and his children who live in Uvalde, they can feel the love.
“We just appreciate these boxes. These boxes are going to deliver, I guess, more like hey someone cares about us,” Valdez said.
“Here’s one for you buddy and one for your friend, okay.” God bless you guys,” McLaughlin said as he handed boxes to people’s cars.
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