(Photo: Jane Stopher)
A New York State church has opted to help raise funds for victims of shootings like the one that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut by having parents return violent video games and toys.
All Saints Church, a Roman Catholic parish in Syracuse, began the charity with the hope of curbing the influence of violent entertainment upon American children.
Father Fred Daley, priest at All Saints, told local media that he hoped that if parents began to return violent toys and stopped buying them, then companies would eventually stop selling them.
"We live in a nation that's seeped in violence and the reality is we teach our children violence with toys we give them and the television programs we show them," said Daley to WSYR News Channel 9.
"This is just one way that all of us can do something to move in a new direction. Instead of the status quo, business as usual, it doesn't have to be this way."
Kathy Meus, director of Faith Formation at All Saints, told The Christian Post that the idea for the charity came during a discussion about the Newtown tragedy between the masses held on Sunday.
"We kept talking about that and … perhaps it is a small step, but we have to start doing something because parents were feeling really helpless," said Meus. "It seems like, it's in our minds and in our hearts for a while and then it fades away until the next event. Something has got to change."
According to Meus, the charity involves a two prong donation: first, there will be the recently purchased toys that parents will give to All Saints with their receipts to return to the stores. The money from the returns will then go to aid the families at Newtown. Second, there will be a general donation of old toys to get rid of them.
"We're looking at our church specifically we will be starting the old toy collection already and with the new ones … we're looking at promoting it and having it be part of celebration and observance of Holy Family Sunday, which is the week after Christmas," said Meus.
In response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week, many people have argued about what steps should be taken to prevent another event like the one that took place in Newtown. The tragedy has thus far prompted calls for tighter gun control as well as better oversight for the mentally ill.
Regarding Daley's charity, some Syracuse churches are supportive of the idea of having parents return their violence-themed toys.
The Rev. Lauren Swanson, pastor at Erwin First United Methodist Church, told The Christian Post that All Saints' charity was "a terrific idea."
"The Erwin 1st United Methodist Church is very much committed to non-violence, and confronting acts of aggression willfully and peacefully. Father Daley's proposal fits well with our sensibilities," said Swanson.
Swanson explained to CP that her church had some discussions about how to respond to tragedies like the one in Newtown, but they had yet "to formulate a plan of action."
"This may well be the avenue we take," said Swanson, referring to the All Saints' charity. "These toys desensitize young people to the consequences of violence. They train into young minds a propensity to respond violently to threatening situations."