Members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Centre County held a candlelight vigil on Thursday at the Allen Street Gates in remembrance of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting who died five years ago.
About 15 members of the church’s “justice team,” which is a group of church members who assemble social action programs around the community, held signs and read the names of those who died at Sandy Hook before lighting candles in their honor at sunset.
“We’re here to let the parents of these children and parents of other children know that they haven’t been forgotten and that there are people who care deeply about this,” justice team chair Peg Dobrinska said.
While the main focus of the event was to remember the victims of Sandy Hook as well as all children who have lost their lives to gun violence, Dobrinska said raising awareness around the issues of gun safety and gun control was an undertone.
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“We are realistic about this and we don’t have any ideas about banning guns or anything like that, but we think that there are reasonable things that we as a society can do to prevent gun violence,” Dobrinska said. “And I think we all feel terribly sad when remembering these children we see that nothing has happened.”
James Hynes, a member of the church, attended the event because he saw it as an opportunity to commemorate the 20 students and six school staff members who lost their lives five years ago as well as to draw attention to gun violence.
“Yes, there are political signs here, but I’m drawn to the lives of these children and I’m here to remind our neighbors that those were not the last, and sadly, there will probably be more until we do something about it,” Hynes said. “I’m not anti-gun and I’ve never been anti-gun, but I do think that we need some common sense regulations.
When Dobrinska has free time, she often reads through congressional roll call voting tallies, and the record of the senators and congressmen who represent Centre County is something she hopes will change.
“Gov. Wolf has been outstanding, Bob Casey has been outstanding, but (Pat) Toomey and (Glenn) Thompson have been terrible,” Dobrinska said. “We also support the Second Amendment, but we want the best safety measures passed that the Congress can think up and to do nothing is really a disgrace. We need to try and we can do better.”