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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

“UA, ASU create paper chain of prayers, hope”

The UA normally begins its first classes on Wednesday. Instead, more than 4,000 students, faculty and community members stopped by the UA Main Library to leave messages and prayers to Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona’s 8th Congressional District representative, and others who were injured or killed Saturday.

Messages written on slips of paper will form one continuous chain to be displayed at Old Main starting today.

The chain is a joint project between administrators, faculty, staff, students and organizations from the UA and ASU, according to Ashley Tutera, a pre-business sophomore and volunteer from the UA Activities Board.

One of the volunteers was Aaron Elyachar, an interdisciplinary studies junior and Associated Students of the University of Arizona safety programming director. “”It has been a very strong, very emotional day. It’s been unifying. … I feel something different at the U of A, I feel more a sense of connection.””

Elyachar said he is really good friends with Daniel Hernandez Jr., the UA student credited with providing critical first aid to Giffords, and has known him since freshman year.

“”I’m proud to call him a hero, and I’m prouder to call him a friend,”” Elyachar said. “”The next time I see him, I plan on giving him a huge hug.””

Volunteer Kelley Stewart, a graduate student in education and the president of ASU’s Graduate and Professional Students Association, spent the afternoon encouraging passersby to contribute to the chain. She said organizers put this project together within 36 hours.

“”It’s really been touching to see who will stop and fill it out,”” Stewart said. “”Some of the young men especially weren’t stopping, but when you went out in the crowd and asked them and invited them in, then they were willing to put down their thoughts too.

“”People were grateful that we gave them this outlet to express themselves.””

Stewart said the organizers had asked volunteers to meet in Gallagher Theater on Wednesday morning and were then asked to write their thoughts.

“”So we were the first links in this chain before it came out on the Mall,”” Stewart said. “”What struck me at the moment was how many people were coming together to respond to this. I do a lot of service and I don’t think it should take a tragedy to bring people out to do service. I think it should be ingrained into our community. So that’s basically what I wrote down.””

ASU President Michael Crow also stopped by the tables Wednesday afternoon to leave a message for Giffords. He first heard about Saturday’s events during ASU’s basketball game with University of California, Berkeley.

“”We were deeply connected to (Giffords) and to her office. She worked on a statewide basis. I mean, yes, she represented Tucson, but she was interested in all of Arizona. So we worked with her on solar energy projects, community development projects and a range of things,”” Crow said. “”She’s a tremendous, tremendous leader. She’s one of the only leaders who can talk to everyone, and there aren’t many people who can do that. I just left a message that America is a loving country and Tucson has really shown that,”” he said.

Other messages on the paper links include:

“”<3 Tucson — Pray Love HOPE””

“”Draw on all of our love for your recovery … You are dearly loved …””

“”It’s absolutely amazing how warm and full of love Tucson is. I always had a feeling, but this tragedy proves it. I can imagine how insane and desolate (this) place might seem to everyone who doesn’t live here, but anyone in the Tucson community knows this truth. <3 “”

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