Mercyhurst student Ben VanHook is currently in the process of organizing a campuswide fundraiser to help those who have been affected by gun violence and mass shootings across our nation.
The event will be a concert in which any member of the Mercyhurst community, including students, faculty and staff, can take to the stage with a talent in support of all those who suffered in response to gun violence in recent months.
Options include singing, playing an instrument, reciting a poem, reading a reflection, dancing or any other method of contributing to the show.
While the show will be free to attend, there will be a donation box for attendees to make a donation to victims. The show will be Jan. 28 and will take place in either the Taylor Little Theatre or Walker Recital Hall, with exact details being released early next semester.
The idea for the event came from VanHook, a sophomore Political Science major.
VanHook is Jewish, and he was motivated to take action following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting.
“This event is necessary because it is important that nobody heals alone. It is also important to raise awareness for these events,” VanHook said. “These victims deserve to be remembered by more than just a name.”
Since that incident in October, shootings have also occurred in Chicago and Denver, as well as Thousand Oaks, California, and Globe, Arizona, with varying numbers of victims.
Fellow sophomore Political Science major Ruairidh Fraser also plans to help with the organization of this event.
“Violence in the United States has risen to a highly worrying level, and what we require now is a proactive stance. I hope that this concert may help with the healing process and draw our attention toward what is sadly such a prevalent issue,” Fraser said.
The AIM program will also be on board to support this event.
Anyone interested in showcasing a talent or helping in another way is encouraged to do so, especially as the event is still in the planning stage.
“What I am excited for is to see people expressing themselves through art,” VanHook said.
“I am looking forward to seeing people of many different and diverse backgrounds come together to support this cause,” he said. “This will have an impact because it will raise money for the victims of the tragedies in Pittsburgh and Thousand Oaks. It will at the same time allow for closure and healing to our own community.”
As the year draws to a close, the U.S. has seen 307 mass shootings in the past eleven months.
VanHook said he is open to suggestions for the event, and encourages all to attend.
“An event like this has never happened at Mercyhurst before, but I am optimistic that it will have a positive impact on our community.”