What started as a modest way to help young people impacted by tragedy has continued to grow into a kind of holiday miracle.

SUNY Oswego public justice faculty member Jaclyn Schildkraut, an author and internationally quoted expert on mass shootings, wanted to bring some relief to children who lost parents in the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 and injured another 546. What started as a simple Facebook post asking friends to help sign holiday cards snowballed into a larger movement -- with more than 1,500 collected already and more to come.

"I recently 'adopted' a family from Las Vegas for the holidays -- three boys who lost their mom in the shooting," she wrote on Dec. 5. "Today, after giving my students extra credit to write them cards, I decided to expand out and do as much as I can for these families -- so I started a card campaign. Right now, I have 40 children who lost relatives, mainly parents, in the shooting. If you’re willing, I’m trying to collect as many holiday cards as possible for each." That number later updated to 44 children, but the support also kept rising.

The effort quickly "turned into an avalanche of support, love, and kindness," Schildkraut wrote later. "In just 24 hours, I have had over 600 cards committed to go out to these kids and more volunteers are stepping up by the moment," including 154 collected by that first day. Volunteers included friends as far back as high school, family members and even complete strangers. Some friends started pledging cards for each affected child. Some spread the word on a #CardsForKids hashtag.

The #CardsForKids campaign took off from a larger initiative, #58BenefitsOfGratitude, started by Tanya Pekes, a Las Vegas resident who wanted to help her community.

Schildkraut also found SUNY Oswego students saw it as much more than just extra credit. "Several of my students were so excited that this took on a life of its own that they asked if they could write more to make an even bigger contribution," Schildkraut said in a Facebook post. "Others said their friends were excited to see them write cards and they wanted to join in."

As of Dec. 8, she had set a goal of 1,000 cards, but more than 600 cards coming on Dec. 15 pushed the effort past the 1,500 mark.

"These kids are going to be so excited when they see all the love!" she said. The project itself has brought a lot of excitement to all those contributing as well.

For more information on how to help, email Jaclyn.Schildkraut@oswego.edu.