Change the Ref, an organization fighting to end gun violence, launched the initiative to inspire members of the NRA to "get a heart."
Manuel and Patricia Oliver lost their son Joaquin Oliver on Valentine's Day in the year 2018. He was one of the 14 students who died in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Joaquin was only 17-years-old at the time. Ever since then, the Olivers have been campaigning against gun violence and calling on legislators to establish stricter gun laws. Currently, the two parents are baking 1,700 cookies to send to the National Rifle Association (NRA). The figure represents the number of children who are murdered by gun violence every year, WSLS.com reports.
Patricia y Manuel Oliver, padres de una de las víctimas de la matanza de Parkland, EEUU, cocinaron mil 700 galletas navideñas con agujeros “de bala”. Representan a los menores que cada año mueren por armas de fuego en Estados Unidos. pic.twitter.com/Mxy9jmsmgP— PlayGround (@PlayGrounder) December 23, 2020
When their son died, the Olivers founded the organization Change the Ref (CTR). They empower young children to fight for their rights and establish common-sense gun control through lobbying policymakers. Their most recent initiative seeks to raise awareness about the extent of gun violence. 1,700 cookies will be sent to members of the NRA, the most powerful gun-rights lobby group in the United States. The cookies are baked in the shape of a small person that is filled with holes. The "person's" eyes are marked with Xs to represent death. The campaign was inspired by a recent social media post uploaded by the NRA.
.@NRA: you wanted to give Santa cookies, we’re baking 1,700 of them with @MFOLParkland @GunsDownAmerica for you to give to him. About one per child and teen who die every year due to gun violence. They’ll be at your headquarters soon. #OneCookiePerKid #EndGunViolence pic.twitter.com/bvaJ6QDW5S— Change the Ref (@ChangeTheRef) December 18, 2020
The post displayed a picture of Santa Claus reading a Christmas list requesting ammo. The caption reads, "Dear Santa, you give us ammo. We give you cookies. It’s that simple." The message was nothing less than shocking to Patricia Oliver, who said she will be hand-delivering each of the baked goods to members of the NRA. Their office is located just outside Washington, DC. "I feel that I’m representing not only Joaquin as a mom of him, but also every single mom," she affirmed. "I am the person that represents every single mom that feels like me: Empty, frustrated, with anger about not having our kid with us."
Manuel Oliver added sarcastically, "We decided to be part of that, support the NRA for the first time ever, and make some cookies. Make things easier for them." The mother said that these cookies, of course, are not the happy ones that they usually make for Christmas. In a video, they explained that the cookies had holes to represent the bullet holes children succumb to. Manuel Oliver explained, "Let's say, this boy had four holes, just like Joaquin," as he used a wooden stick to punch holes into the cookie dough.
Parkland parents @manueloliver00 and @patriciapadauy made and delivered 1,700 Christmas cookies to the NRA to represent the 1,700 kids who lose their lives to gun violence each year pic.twitter.com/OADLCzx7jZ— NowThis (@nowthisnews) December 23, 2020
"This is a symbolism of letting them know that we need to get a heart," Patricia Oliver affirmed. "We need to carry a heart all day long. Besides whatever you do in your life, for a moment, you need to care about what's going on with the rest of society." In addition to this campaign, CTR has regular programming to help youth become future leaders. Their website reads, "Change The Ref’s ultimate goal is to give the young generation of survivors and victims a disrupting voice to help lead the way to change—a more peaceful future." If you would like to get involved with their mission, you can visit their website here.