TULSA, Okla. — Instead, of sleeping in or playing video games like most typical teens, Jenks high school students painted crosses for the COVID-19 Remembrance Project Saturday morning.
The project is behind Forest Park Christian Church, on the corner of 91st and Mingo. It is a memorial of over 3, 500 crosses created by Toby Gregory. Each cross represents an Oklahoman who died from COVID or COVID related illnesses.
"We started with over 2,170 crosses when we first installed the memorial in December," Gregory said. "Since then, we have added 1,330 crosses to the memorial."
Gregory, told 2 Works for You that the project is alive by its generous donations through a GoFundMe page and numerous volunteers.
The Key Club is a Jenks student-run organization that volunteers for numerous causes in the community.
Julia Wasson, a senior, has been a Key Club member for about three years. She reached out to Jamie Pierson, the project volunteer coordinator after her grandmother passed away from COVID in December 2020.
Julia's mother Mary Wasson says she'd seen the COVID-19 Remembrance Project story on KJRH. When she was driving back from her mother's funeral she spotted the crosses from her car off the road. Mary said she was moved by the project and said it was important to give back even if it has been a difficult time grieving the death of her mother.
"[My mother] was very dedicated to service, so she has inspired much of this," Mary shared.
Julia and Mary, joined a total of 11 volunteers Saturday to paint 400 crosses.
Gregory is struggling to keep up with the number of COVID deaths released by the Oklahoma State Department of Health each day. Volunteers are key to keeping the project running.
"I am grateful the Key Club students dedicated their time to help us with the hundreds of crosses needed for the memorial. It makes all this possible," Gregory said.
"Getting to do this work has been very meaningful for them, to feel like they've contributed to something so important and valuable. The best way to reach out [to volunteer] is through the Facebook page. We'll arrange a pick up of a number of crosses and paint, and the volunteer will paint them at their leisure, then arrange a drop off of the completed crosses. The whole process is contactless and remote," stated Pierson.
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