Columbine High School students and staff will volunteer in the community on Wednesday to commemorate the 23rd anniversary of a school shooting that killed 12 students and a teacher.
The Day of Service began in 2017 and brings together students and staff with alumni and volunteers to perform acts of kindness for first responders, senior citizens and those in need on the anniversary of the deadly shooting.
Over 1,200 students — 70% of the student population — and staff will spend the day helping over 50 outreach programs. Their volunteer work includes going to elementary schools and reading to students and assisting in wildfire recovery efforts in Boulder, said Jeff Garkow, a social studies teacher at Columbine and co-organizer of the event.
“What better way to honor these lives than go out in the community and engage in acts of service, kindness and (love), to honor the memories of our beloved 13 who were lost and to really celebrate the strength of the community,” Garkow said.
Gov. Jared Polis declared on April 20, 2019, that the date would forever be known throughout the state as a Day of Service and Recommitment.
In 2016, organizers began discussing how to turn the anniversary into something more for the community, Garkow said.
He and fellow social studies teacher Sam Bowersox-Daly saw the anniversary as an opportunity to give back and show the strength of the community. Bowersox-Daly said the day is also about being a better human being.
“It’s about recommitting yourself to your community to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and really spend some time to do that,” Bowersox-Daly said.
Over the years, Garkow said students have “taken over,” submitting more projects and ideas each year to grow the program.
However, the outreach isn’t limited to volunteering. It can be a small gesture or a large one, Garkow said.
“For some of our students, it’s checking in with (neighbors or family members) that they haven’t talked to in a while or holding open doors for people,” he said. “No act is too small on this day.”