Vigil for child abuse victims held at Zinn Park
by Laura Gaddy
lbgaddy@annistonstar.com
Aug 11, 2013 | 4207 views |  0 comments | 71 71 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Electronic candles were part of the vigil ceremony held in Zinn Park Saturday to remember victims of child abuse. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Electronic candles were part of the vigil ceremony held in Zinn Park Saturday to remember victims of child abuse. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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Parents who went to Zinn Park Saturday afternoon to pick up free classroom supplies for their children got a crash course in child abuse awareness.

“When you see something, say something about it,” said Trace Fleming-Smith, a sexual violence programs coordinator for 2nd Chance, a local organization that helps victims of domestic and sexual abuse. “Lives are on the line. We can’t ignore what’s happening in our own community.”

Fleming-Smith spoke to a crowd of about two dozen people beneath the pavilion at Zinn Park. They were there waiting to pick up school supplies, but they also participated in a vigil for child abuse victims, including Gregory Caver. The 5-year-old Anniston boy was beaten to death last month, authorities say, and an adult has been charged with the crime.

Telesa Stanford, a case manager at 2nd Chance, and Kumira Mason-Lemon said together they decided to couple the school supplies giveaway with the information session. Mason-Lemon directed a brief ceremony in memory of Gregory Caver and for other domestic abuse victims while Stanford shared a few facts about abuse.

Attendees formed a circle and held tiny electronic tea lights in their hands as one parent, Natalie Gilbert, sang a hymn alone.

Gilbert, who's a teacher, a minister and a member of a social justice organization in Florida, was there to collect school supplies for her daughter who will be a sophomore in high school later this month. Waiting for work in Georgia, Gilbert said the family is staying in Anniston for one more school year.

“People need to know that there is some sort of assistance out there,” said Gilbert, who grew up in Calhoun County.

A vocal member of the crowd, Gilbert didn’t know the school supply event would include a child abuse prevention talk.

Gilbert said she thinks there is still much to be done to raise awareness about child abuse and domestic problems in Calhoun County.

“People hear what you have to say and when the leave they forget about you as soon as they get their supplies,” Gilbert said.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.
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