SUNY Oswego criminal justice faculty member Jaclyn Schildkraut collected more than 9,300 holiday cards for 80 children impacted by mass shootings, including those in Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Orlando, Santa Fe and Aurora.

"People keep pledging 100 cards at a time. Others send money to help me with shipping realizing what a huge undertaking this is. When more people get added to the list, many step up and take more names,” Schildkraut posted on Facebook in the middle of the effort. She would later add a few children with terminal illnesses looking for cards to the effort.

In 2017, Schildkraut’s friends, students and even complete strangers banded together to send 2,036 cards in a similar effort. 

“Cards will be sent to kids who lost loved ones in recent mass shootings to make their holidays a little brighter,” explained Schildkraut, an author and internationally quoted expert on mass shootings.

"There are no real MVPs here because WE all did it together," she wrote on Facebook after sending out the boxes upon boxes of cards on Dec. 20. "Yes, the WE is what is most important -- I may have coordinated, but you can’t play a good song without the full orchestra. That was everyone who contributed to this venture. The saying 'it takes us all to make the one' has never been truer."

The effort began last year when Schildkraut wanted to bring some relief to children who lost parents in the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 and injured another 546. She would later add those impacted by a mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas which killed 26 and injured 20 on Nov. 5, 2017. This year the project also will include children who lost siblings and parents in the Stoneman Douglas High School shootings in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 students and staff members while injuring 17 others.

“You can do as many or as few as you would like -- every little bit of love helps,” Schildkraut said.

Giving back

For Schildkraut, the topic is not just one of academic interest, but is personal. She used to live in Orlando, so the shooting at the Pulse nightclub hit close to home, as did Parkland, the area where she grew up -- although every such incident brings her sadness as well as media requests.

"This was even more meaningful yet heartbreaking by the inclusion of Parkland," Schildkraut wrote on Facebook. "Seeing those 17 boxes, day in and day out, was a painful reminder that home will never be the same. It is my hope through that these cards make it a little brighter, even if for a moment."

Schildkraut is the author of two books with a third forthcoming: “Columbine: 20 Years and Beyond: Lessons from Tragedy,” set for January 2019 release, will focus on the victims and community impacted by that momentous shooting and the long-range effects of it, with proceeds benefiting the Columbine Memorial.

“For me, it’s always about giving back, and in this season, the cards project not only shows people that we care, but brings so many friends and strangers together in doing something good,” Schildkraut said.