DENVER (CBS4) — A Denver church is hoping to save lives — all by folding two pieces of paper. Volunteers are combining art and activism to raise awareness about what they call an epidemic of gun violence. More than one thousand boxes cover a wall at First Baptist Church of Denver. Each one is a different story of someone affected by gunfire in the United States.
The boxes can represent deaths, accidents, defense, and suicides. The installation is part of the Soul Box Project, a national movement started in Portland, Orgeon following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Rhonda Magee brought it to Denver.
“What we’ve been doing, thus far, is having every third Sunday be dedicated to making boxes after our worship services are finished,” Magee told CBS4’s Andrea Flores.
Volunteers are working to create more than 30,000 boxes by April. They’ll carry the boxes to the state capitol for a memorial service for victims of gunfire.
Soul Box plans to install more than 200,000 boxes made from around the country to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. next fall. The Soul Boxes Project says the boxes will represent people affected by gunfire between 2014 and 2017, according to their source, GunViolenceArchive.org.
“We’re right here in Denver, Colorado, where there have been so many tragedies and episodes involving the gunfire epidemic,” Magee said. “It’s embedded in our memories and this is a way for us to honor and memorialize those horrible situations.”
Rosalee Kocherer’s husband is a substitute teacher at Stem School in Highlands Ranch. She understands the trauma of a shooting firsthand.
“I heard the sirens, and I heard the police coming close to our house,” Kocherer said. “Not knowing where he was and if he was in that school and what he was doing affected me personally.”
With each fold, the Soul Box Project hopes to help communities like Colorado heal.
“Creating art is very therapeutic, and I think it’s important to have that kind of therapy to address this widespread trauma,” Magee stated.
The First Baptist Church invites the public to some to their box-folding events every third Sunday of the month. They are also training volunteers to make the boxes, and learn the meaning behind them, so they can pass on the knowledge to people across the state.
For more information on the Soul Box Project: https://soulboxproject.org/home