SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas – Two weeks after 26 people were murdered at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the community is trying to move forward and prepare for the holiday season.
Residents gathered Sunday to kick off the season with a free Thanksgiving meal and a tree-lighting ceremony to honor the lives lost.
Those who gathered took time to remember loved ones and neighbors.
Terrie Smith coordinated the free lunch and tree lighting.
“I felt that this was an opportunity to help all the families come together and the community,” she said.
Each of the 26 victims who died have an angel on the Christmas tree. The angel ornaments have their names on them.
Those who were injured are also included.
The light bulbs are examples of the recovering lives which continue to shine, and the angelic figurines represent the real wings the victims earned on Nov. 5.
“It's all about faith, that's what it all boils down to, all about faith,” Melissa Salinas said. “We know that they had faith in God and we do too, and if we have that then there's nothing to worry about.”
No presents will be placed under the tree. Instead those who set up the tree hope families impacted will feel the gift of peace.
After the tree is taken down the angels will be given to the victim’s families.