gun violence

North Texas Woman Helps Brighten Holidays for Children Impacted by Gun Violence

Amanda Johnson organizes "angel" gift donations for children who have lost a parent or sibling to gun violence

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The dining room table at Amanda Johnson's home in East Dallas was covered with clothes and toys on Tuesday morning.

"Sadly, there's no shortage of kids that have lost a sibling or parent to gun violence," Johnson said.

For the last 3 years, Johnson has been organizing gift donations for children who have been touched by gun violence.

"Father shot and killed in front of their home," Johnson said reading off her list of "angel" wishes. "Father was shot and killed while driving a taxi. That's a family here in Dallas."

When Johnson started to pair donors with children in need 3 years ago, she had a list of 50 children. This year there are 123 across the nation on her list, with an additional 100 children in Dallas.

"I tell people I'm done, but if I get that email, we'll just crank out some more," she said.

Johnson can empathize with the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

"It's heartbreaking because I lost my little sister, so I understand this in a way other people don't," Johnson said. "So many of them are dealing with not just the grief and depression, but crippling financial trouble. They've had to have a funeral, which is more expensive than anyone can imagine."

As the number of homicides in Dallas in 2019 nears 200, many of those by gun violence, Johnson said she knew there were children who are caught in the emotional crossfire.

"Now, there's however many more people in the club nobody wants to join," Johnson said.

The gift wishes ranged from simple blankets and shoes, to bigger items like bikes and computers.

"I was so worried about how can I get four or five people to pitch in for a laptop," Johnson said. "It was the first one taken within 90 seconds."

Johnson, who is a gun safety activist with Moms Demand Action, posts the holiday gift wishes online and tags gun violence survivor groups to get the wishes granted.

"This is not charity. This is one survivor to another hoping to brighten their holidays," Johnson said. "I hope that for a short period they get to not be grieving. They just get to be kids, having Christmas, opening a really great gift."

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