Arapahoe students try to shift focus from tragedy to helping others

D'zone group cooks chili, feeds homeless

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - While some students struggle to cope with the tragic shooting at Arapahoe High School, others prefer to take their minds off the tragedy, by focusing on other people in need.

On Tuesday, several AHS students, who spend time at the Drennen O'Melia Youth Center, cooked up a batch of chili, made sandwiches and cookies, and handed them out to homeless men and women near Civic Center Park.

"It helps them by letting them show love," said youth center director Shanda Velisek. "They've been given so much love and they just want to share that love with other people."

Velisek said the students wanted to find something to do while the school was shut down.

"It's a way of something good coming out in an evil time," she said.

Sophomore student Quinn Miller told 7NEWS that instead of staying home and commiserating about what happened, he and other members of the group prefer to keep busy.

"It really feels weird," he said, "because normally we'd be taking finals right now and going to school and studying as hard as we can, but we're out here helping people as much as we can."

When asked how it helps them cope, sophomore student Morgan Reece replied, "Just seeing other people be happy when you give them food makes me happy."

Senior student Avery Miller was another of the volunteers handing out food.  He told 7NEWS that he knows the shooting victim, Claire Davis, and knew the gunman, Karl Pierson.

"I was surprised it happened," Avery Miller said. "He would joke about stuff like this. It was his humor. It definitely was a big shock when he did it."

When asked why he thinks Claire was shot, Miller replied, "I just think she was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Sophomore student Ryan Snyder said feeding the homeless helps take their minds off the violence.

"You can kind of focus on other people," Snyder said, "and allow yourself to almost forget, for a little bit. You can never totally forget, but to give back to other people just feels good."

Velisek said the group's next stop is Children's Hospital, where they'll visit kids suffering from injury or illness.

"So many people have shown support for students at Arapahoe, and we want to do our part to 'pay it forward,'"

she said.