TROY — In the aftermath of Sunday’s shooting in Dayton’s Oregon District, Troy resident Brooke Evans felt compelled to do something positive.
Evans, a 2013 graduate of Troy High School, received her undergraduate degree in 2018 from Wright State University, where she is currently earning a master’s degree in school counseling.
“As a student at Wright State, the Oregon District is our place to hang out,” she said. “I was even asked to go there the night that the shooting occurred, but was just too tired.”
Earlier this week, Evans said she had been watching news coverage of the shootings when she wondered what she could do from Troy to show support to those affected by the incident.
After some brainstorming, Evans said she looked down at her two Australian Shepherd dogs, Oakley and Miley, when an idea came to her.
“I thought, ‘I’m so tired of the political side of things, and I’m so tired of seeing all the hateful things and the negativity,’” she said. “So I wondered, ‘What can I do that is going to be positive? What makes people happy?’ My dogs were laying with me and I said, ‘Wait, you guys make people happy!’”
Evans decided to set up a table outside of her home during the day Wednesday to offer a place for people to gather with their dogs, get free dog treats, and simply experience “togetherness,” all while accepting monetary donations for victims of the shooting. She decided to call her project, “Kisses and Paws for a Cause #DaytonStrong.”
“I can go down to the Oregon District, I can lay flowers, but I wanted to do something that would impact the community,” Evans said. “Dayton is very important to me, and with Wright State being a commuter school, you have a lot of people from Troy who go there, and I wanted to show Dayton that we support them here in Troy.”
Evans said she is also aware of the effect the tragic events of Sunday can have on people.
“There are so many people who are struggling with this and so much they have to deal with internally,” she said. “In my counseling mind, I’m thinking there are probably people who don’t have anyone to talk to, and this didn’t have to include talking about what occurred, but to talk about how their day was, or anything.”
Evans had bagged up homemade dog treats and tied them with tags adorned with positive messages, including “Made With Love #DaytonStrong.” Her pups were dressed in bandanas with messages, as well, including “I’ll supply the kisses,” and “I have the paws.”
Evans noted that nothing was for sale, and that she simply wanted to provide a place for people to come and experience something positive in the wake of such tragedy.
“I didn’t want to sell anything or force people to feel like they had to donate,” she said. “My goal wasn’t to make people feel uncomfortable, it was to show our support from Troy. It was my way to spread some positivity, to get away from the political side of things, and I don’t know a lot of things that make people more happy than dogs.”
Evans said she was able to collect $300 after spending the day set up outside on Wednesday. Given the turnout, she said she will set up again on Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., in Troy’s Shenandoah neighborhood. Evans said there will signs at the entrance of the neighborhood to direct any visitors to her table.
Evans said she was also invited to Miami Valley Music Fest on Saturday to set up and collect donations. Although pets are not allowed in the fest, she will have treats available for festival-goers to take home to their dogs.
After Saturday, Evans will be donating her collections to the Dayton Oregon District Tragedy Fund set up by The Dayton Foundation.
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