It started at Ironwood Ridge High School with a simple idea, followed by 800 white bracelets. Now thousands across the country are wearing the white bands that read: “Remember 1.8.11.”
On the Monday following the mass shooting in front of a Safeway store in Tucson, the IRHS student government came together for its first period at school.
Members agreed they wanted to do something in response to the shootings that killed six and injured another 14; they just didn’t know what.
They started brainstorming and throwing ideas across the room. The ideas ranged from T-shirts to fundraising. Then Matt Filbert, 16, the sophomore class president and a wrestler, suggested bracelets.
“Once class started, we all kind of started throwing out ideas for things we could do that were simple but would be effective,” Filbert recalled last week. “I just remembered the Livestrong bracelets that Lance Armstrong would sell, the yellow ones. I knew you could customize them, they were pretty cheap, and we could make some money off of them and donate the money to the victims’ fund.”
As soon as Filbert mentioned it, the class jumped on the idea. Within in an hour’s time, collectively, they knew what color the bracelets would be, what they would read and that a small order of 800 would be sufficient for students and teachers at the school.
However, some in the class, like 17-year-old junior class president Trevor Barroero, were hesitant to order that many.
“I still said, ‘even if we have extras, it’s going to be OK,’” Barroero said. “At that point we all sort of agreed that, ‘guys, let’s order 800, it’s kind of crazy, that’s a lot of bracelets. We’ll just see where it goes.’”
That’s when the students started to think big. Last Thursday, they talked about ordering bracelets by the thousands. They discussed how they would set up at Safeways around town, and who would sell them at farmer’s markets.
This past weekend, a few students stood outside the Safeway at Ina and Oracle roads, the site of the Jan. 8 shootings. Within 30 minutes, they had sold nearly 500 bracelets. The buyers were proud of what they and their classmates were doing, including Sue Mullarkey, who used to live on the north side of town. She bought bracelets for her kids as well as her fellow nurses at University Medical Center.
“This is just a wonderful idea,” Mullarkey said after purchasing a handful of the white wristbands.
As of last week, the class had ordered about 30,000 bracelets. Since Jan. 10, the class of nearly 30 students has raised more than $20,000 for Tucson Tragedy Victims’ Fund.
And they aren’t stopping now. They have another order for 15,000 bracelets arriving this week.
Behind the class is IRHS teacher Samantha Burgin, the student government advisor who initially used her own money to purchase the bracelets and guided the students when they needed it.
“It has consumed a lot of my time but it is definitely worth it,” Burgin said. “It’s amazing to see my kids really put forth the effort for something like this. They put a lot of effort into pep assemblies and dances; they put a lot of effort into community service. But to see it pay off in this way is phenomenal.”
Burgin has fielded calls from groups from as far away as Hawaii who want to order bracelets. She also has stood aside to allow students to tackle their goal of getting their bracelets into the White House.
Barroero and a few others want to see President Barack Obama wearing their bracelets.
“This has nothing to do with the publicity of our school, and I would be just as happy if any other school did the exact same thing,” Barroero said. “The President himself is the leader of our country. It’s not about the actual physical bracelet itself but the idea of the bracelet being in the White House. If President Obama were to wear our bracelet, it’s just the whole idea that this country is united.”
|• Students will be selling the bracelets this weekend at the
Safeway at Ina and Oracle roads from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• All proceeds from the bracelets go to the Tucson Tragedy Victims’ Fund.
• For other locations and times, visit www.amphi.com/teachers/