Local pediatrician Amanda Dickerson said she initially felt helpless hearing about episodes of gun violence both locally and around the nation.
"I went from feeling helpless to determined," she said. "As a pediatrician, gun violence directly affects my daily life. Whether it's in domestic violence, children who are caught in the crossfire of unintentional acts or for suicide prevention, I thought to myself, 'How can I be small change? Living in Joplin, Missouri, what can I do?'"
Dickerson helped found the Joplin chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and is its volunteer leader. The chapter is one of hundreds across the country planning to observe Wear Orange Day on Saturday, held in conjunction with National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
The color orange was chosen by friends to honor shooting victim Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed in 2013 in Chicago. Those who wear orange pledge to honor the lives of Americans lost because of gun violence, to work to keep firearms out of the hands of people with dangerous histories and to protect communities from further gun violence.
The local Wear Orange event is open to the public, and runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Landreth Park. There will be food trucks, live music, voter registration, games, children's activities and vendor tables from area organizations. A supply of gun locks will also be handed out to those interested in finding ways to help keep families and communities safer.
Dickerson said she wants community members to know there are meaningful changes that can be accomplished.
"There are things we can do to make ourselves safer that don't have anything to do with taking anyone's guns away, which is an important distinction when you live in a hunting community like Southwest Missouri," she said. "The whole purpose of Moms (Demand Action) is to work within the Second Amendment to find ways to make our communities safer. With gun rights comes responsibility."
Several members of the Joplin chapter, Dickerson said, are gun owners themselves, maintaining the necessity for good sense in teaching safety, awareness and violence prevention. One of the group's main priorities has been a program intended to reduce unintentional shootings by teaching children and families to secure all guns in homes and vehicles, to model responsible behavior, to ask about unsecured guns in other homes and to recognize the role of guns in suicide.
Joplin's Wear Orange event also will honor survivors and those lost to gun violence.
"We want to bring a voice to the hundreds who are killed and injured every day who don't have a voice anymore," Dickerson said. "We're trying to make our communities safer in their honor."
To learn more about Wear Orange Day, go to wearorange.org.