“I’m almost losing count.” Roanoke community hosts Grades over Guns event

Grades over Guns supplied kids with free backpacks and school supplies.
Grades over Guns supplied kids with free backpacks and school supplies.(Amaiya Howard)
Published: Aug. 12, 2023 at 6:24 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The number of gun violence victims in Roanoke continues to grow. Council member Stephanie Moon Reynolds says it is hard to keep track of the number.

“I’m almost losing count,” says Reynolds. “We try to look towards education, how important education is, what it can do for you.”

As a part of a back-to-school event, Grades over Guns provided kids with free backpacks and school supplies. Leaders of the event say giving resources to kids will show them there’s more to life than violence.

Families Expecting Deliverance Using Prayers, also known as FED-UP, helps families deal with the aftermath of gun violence.

“We want the youth to understand how important it is to finish school, to get into your grades instead of out here involved in things that will take your life,” says FED-UP president Rita Joyce.

Joyce started the organization after losing her son Joey Joyce to gun violence in 2004.

“I don’t think we know the why. And I go back to the why all the time. Why is it happening to our youth? And it’s because maybe they don’t have an outlet,” added Joyce.

She says the key is being more proactive than reactive.

“Find out the root of the problem, why are so many kids, especially between the ages of 18 and 25, why is it that they are choosing guns over their lives?” questioned Joyce.

Event managers hope everyone can come together to be a part of the solution.

“Don’t think that violence is the biggest thing out here; let’s make love bigger than the violence. And if we can make love bigger, then we can stop the violence,” says event manager Jason Hariston.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and we are trying to raise a community. Why not have different organizations come together who all have the same cause?” added event manager Jalen Small.

For upcoming events hosted by FED-UP click here.