Tree of Life: how students can offer help


Photo courtesy of Rosalyn Yang

Wooden figures in the shape of the Star of David stand are decorated with flowers, hearts and the name of each victim in the Tree of Life shooting outside the synagogue.

By Sarah Shearer, Assistant News Editor

Pittsburghers woke up this morning to day three of a very different city — a city missing 11 residents who lost their lives in Saturday’s massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue. The slains’ countless loved ones have only begun to walk through a period of grief and mourning. As members of the Pitt community, we can be active participants in healing this City — whether by donating a few dollars, a pint of blood or simply sitting with a hurting neighbor. Here are a few ways you can help.

Donating money

You can give directly to the Tree of Life Synagogue, which is accepting donations on its website. Several other fundraisers on Facebook are also underway for organizations like HIAS — an immigrant aid society known for assisting in Jewish resettlement, which Robert Bowers, the suspected shooter, denounced online via his Gab social media account.

Pitt’s Challah for Hunger, an umbrella organization of Hillel Jewish University Center, is donating all funds from this Friday’s weekly challah bread sale to Tree of Life. On Monday, Challah for Hunger had already raised more than $2,600 — or 900 loaves of challah bread — through its “sponsor a challah” fundraiser. The fundraising form will be open through Thursday, which can be found at the Challah for Hunger – University of Pittsburgh Facebook page.

Donating Blood

The American Red Cross will host a blood drive in the William Pitt Union on Friday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Students could register using the code “PITT” on their website for Friday’s drive — though, as of Monday, it’s already full of registrants.

Receiving support for you or a friend

Pitt’s Office of Human Resources has created several ways for students to receive support in the coming days. Professional from Life Solutions will be available from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday for individual support. They can be found at the following two locations:

UPMC MyHealth@Work Center, Medical Arts Building, 3708 Fifth Ave., Suite 505

Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace St., Suite 401

The University will also hold a group support session for any Pitt faculty and staff from 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. in the Good Room at the University Club on Wednesday, Oct. 31.

In a message to students and staff Monday, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher affirmed students’ and community members’ acts of service and love to one another, acts that form the core of our University community — one that has, according to Gallagher, proven unshakable in the midst of tragedy.

“… Communities under duress tend to react one of two ways. They either tip out or tip in. Communities that tip out are weakened by chaos … communities that tip in band together, bolstering their core and growing even stronger as a result,” Gallagher said. “The last 48 hours have led me to believe that in the aftermath of this horrific act, our community will tip decisively in. We will continue to come together, support one another and collectively reject hatred.”

Gallagher urged students to show up in the face of this tragedy, to offer their sympathy and helping hands in support and to engage in vigils and volunteer opportunities.

“When compounded,” Gallagher said, “these small and simple acts tell a powerful story.”