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How memory of slain Richmond middle-schooler is lifting other students

'She taught me how to stand up and fight for what's right'
Posted at 11:01 PM, Sep 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-12 23:08:41-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Officials with a nonprofit group say despite the violence Central Virginia has seen recently, many people trying to do good in our community.

The Village Against Violence organization had planned their annual back-to-school supply drive long before recent events. But organizers said the mission behind the giving seems that much more important because a large percentage of students in Central Virginia will be attending school from home.

"The kids have been at home doing things virtually, we just wanted to give them to come out, breathe and be around positive people,” Shavon Ragsdale with Village Against Violence said.

But volunteers with the group said for many young people in Richmond, that job is particularly tough.

"Violence doesn't only affect the family, it's starting to affect the whole community," Ragsdale said.

The group was formed in 2015 after 12-year-old Amiya Moses was shot and killed in Richmond. The middle-schooler was not the intended target of the gunfire.

How memory of slain Richmond middle-schooler is

Kele Wright, Amiya's mother, said the lessons she learned from her daughter still resonate with the group's work today.

"My daughter taught me responsibility,” Wright said. “She taught me how to stand up and fight for what's right, because she wouldn't want what's all going on.”

There have been dozens of shootings in Richmond's East End and Southside over the course of the past few weeks.

"I started crying because there was a little kid on the news, and he was just in tears because there was so much going on with the violence -- and he wasn't able to go outside,” Ragsdale said.

Village Against Violence members said it is heartbreaking to consider that students who live near those scenes have to think about their safety and still try to learn during a pandemic.

Supplies and snacks may help in the short term with their schooling, but the hope is showing young children their community cares for them can have a ripple effect through generations.

"So if the adults see a change in their children, they can reflect to their parents, and if it’s vice versa, the children can reflect their parents,” Mercades Byrd explained. “And that's our goal.”

Ragsdale said the group plans to do whatever they can to keep kids safe.