By Conference Minister Diane Weible
We hear the news and we lament that there seems to be little we can do to address the issue of gun violence in our society. We scream and shake our fists at the TV every time a leader says that guns are not the problem, people are. Our voices are dry from telling people that we are not opposed to the 2nd Amendment, only to guns that are being used to kill in fairs and festivals and shopping centers that can shoot 100 rounds in a matter of seconds.
If you are feeling helpless, I want to invite you to rally around an event that NCNC has supported for the past three years: Put the Guns Down!
This annual event began 12 years ago, organized by Elana Bolds, a member of City of Refuge Church. She wanted to create a block party where children, youth and families could gather for a day of fun, free of violence. The event includes a raffle ticket for every child who attends. With those tickets they have a chance to receive a scooter or bicycle. There are also other prizes like movie tickets and toys so that every child can receive a gift, even if there are not enough scooters and bicycles for each young person to receive.
Local merchants and vendors provide free haircuts and children’s coats and shoes are available for those in need. Crafts, face painting, races, treasure hunts and much more are part of the day’s festivities.
At Annual Gathering this year, one of the service projects we supported was this important event. But it didn’t stop there. After Annual Gathering, one of our Conference Council members went to his Association Moderator and proposed not only that the Golden Gate Association raise funds but that they also challenge the Bay Association to make a matching donation of $250 for this event, since the event is being held in the Bay Association. Bay Association stepped up and met that match. When we shared this exciting news on one of our monthly Association Moderator calls, the other Associations offered to take this news back to their Boards and see if they could match this gift as well. As of my writing this, the Sequoia Association has informed us that they too will send a donation.
I don’t have the exact total but I do believe that the amount collected so far is well over $1000 and will provide many bikes and scooters for young people who attend this wonderful event.
That got me thinking, these kinds of community events offer us an outlet for our feelings of helplessness. We feel that way because we know we need to do something to make a difference and we aren’t sure how to do it or whether our efforts will be enough. I imagine Elana felt that way the first year she tried to organize this event. Now, it has grown and I am hopeful that every child and every parent and every one of us who attend this event will be transformed.
If you would like to donate to this project, you can send your gifts to the Conference Office with “Put Down the Guns” in the memo line. If you have time on September 7, please come out to Defremery Park in Oakland to see the impact that can be made when a community comes together to say, “Please, for one day at least, let’s put down the guns and have fun and care for one another!”