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Hoffman takes action to stop violence

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Hoffman takes action to stop violence

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Mary Hoffman, a junior at Cotter, has recently taken action towards a big problem in today’s America: gun violence.

There is, on average, one mass shooting a day in the United States alone. Yearly, around 34,000 people are killed by acts of gun violence.

Hoffman, inspired by the Stoneman-Douglas school shooting in Florida,  saw this problem growing, and decided to do something about it.  Hoffman, along with her friend, McCarthy Leaf, a junior at Winona Senior High School, started a club called “Winona Youth Actions.”  They hope to inspire young people to stand up for what they believe in, and, in particular,  take steps to prevent school shootings.

The Majory Stoneman Douglas shooting on February 14, 2018, was for Mary the final straw. She had seen other students getting involved in their communities, and became inspired.

“When the Stoneman Douglas students formed March for Our Lives and successfully hosted a national march with hundreds of thousands of people present, I realized that we can actually make a change in our world.”

When the Stoneman Douglas students formed March for Our Lives and successfully hosted a national march with hundreds of thousands of people present, I realized that we can actually make a change in our world”

— Mary Hoffman

In June,2018, Hoffman and Leaf got to work. They attended a “Wear Orange Rally” outside the State capitol bulding, and were asked to form a “Students Demand Action” chapter in their hometown of Winona. This was the push they needed, and they immediately started planning Winona Youth Actions.

Along the way, the Winona chapter of Moms Demand Action assisted them a lot in getting the club on its feet. They gave them advise on planning rallies, speaking appropriately on the issue at hand, and more.

After a lot of dedication and hard work, the day finally came for their first event: the Steamboat Days parade. They were not in the parade, but they handed out flyers on the side and engaged with bystanders who were interested in the topic.

They have had more events following this, like the Goodview Days parade and hosting two Vote for Our Live rallies this past October 6, and November 4.

“I stopped by the Vote for Our Live rally on October 6, and it was really interesting. I think what Mary is doing is really brave and her hard work is really paying off. As someone who is all for gun violence prevention, I’m glad that someone had the courage to do something in our hometown,” Manya Kamara, Cotter junior, said.

Throughout their planning, events, and everything in between, their ultimate goal is that all this work is finally worth something: a prevention to gun violence from occcuring so often in America.

We need to do something more than sending our thoughts and prayers to the thousands of victims, and pushing for these laws is the best route”

— Mary Hoffman

The first step to this is to lobby for “common-sense gun legislation”, which won’t completely end gun violence, but is the best solution there is as of today, in the group’s view.

“We need to do something more than sending our thoughts and prayers to the thousands of victims, and pushing for these laws is the best route,” Hoffman said.

If reading this article inspired anyone else to get involved, any student can join Winona Youth Actions themselves. By simply sending your name, grade/school and the best way to contact you to [email protected], you are added to the team and will be informed on where to go from there.

The group also meets every Friday during both lunch periods in the room next to MHP’s classroom.

Hoffman’s experience as an activist has made a lot of memories during her journey to end gun violence.

“One moment that really stood out to me is when Anne Galke spoke during the open discussion portion. She spoke from her heart and delivered a really effective speech (there is a quote in the Winona Daily Newspaper). Another moment was when we all started to chant, “Enough!” while taking a group picture in front of the ENOUGH letters.”

What started out as a simple idea, has spun off into something that is gaining momentum. Winona Youth Actions is aiming inform others about the significance of gun violence, but it also hopes to bring community members  who embrace different opinions together in hopes that they can agree on one thing: lives matter.

A Winona Youth Actions sign you may have seen around Winona!

 

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