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Strangers fold flowers for Freeman shooting victim’s memorial

She hates crafting.

Yet in spite of that, Deanna Doyle remained seated on the floor of a Spokane home, carefully folding colored paper into the shape of flowers Thursday.

“Losing my dad was horribly hurtful,” she said. “I can’t imagine losing my daughter.”

Doyle was one of roughly 40 people, including her 5-year-old daughter, to make paper flowers for Sam Strahan’s memorial service, to be held this Saturday. Strahan, a sophomore at Freeman High School, was killed by a classmate on Wednesday, Sept. 13.

The flower crafting event was organized by Mary Eberle, the owner of Anemone Paper Florist.

“These flowers are going to last forever,” said Sylvia Fleener, who sat nearby Doyle. “Every time Sam’s mom looks at these she will know there’s a community behind her.”

That was exactly Eberle’s hope for the event, she said. Earlier this week, Strahan’s family reached out to Eberle asking for flowers for the Saturday memorial service. Eberle didn’t have enough time, or staff, to fulfill the order on her own. Plus, she thought it would be a good way for the community to support and help a grieving family who had lost not one, but two members in the past few months.

Sam’s father, Scott Strahan, died on June 18 when he was crushed beneath a motor home he was working on.

Eberle is not charging the Strahans for the flowers.

“(Sam Strahan) risked his own life,” Eberle said. “He lost his own life. If we can honor that as a community by our own acts of heroism and kindness then his life will not be in vain.”

Eberle said paper flowers take about an hour to make, depending on the complexity of the flower and the creator’s experience. She didn’t know how many she’d end up delivering to the Saturday memorial.

“However many we make will be the right amount,” Eberle said.

The event lasted from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eberle said that when she first organized it, she “didn’t even invite her friends” because it was so last-minute. By Thursday, the Facebook event had more than 100 shares.

Even a floral design class from Chewelah made the hour-plus drive to pitch in.

Eberle herself is no stranger to tragedy, she said. She recently miscarried her fifth child and her grandfather died a week ago.

“The impermanence of life is real,” she said. “The loss of a child gives you that real perspective.”

Other individuals and organizations have stepped into the breach of the shooting tragedy. Several local T-shirt companies have made “Freeman Strong” T-shirts, with money from the sales to be donated to the school.

There is a petition on Change.org to rename Highway 27 the Sam Strahan Memorial Highway. As of Thursday afternoon, the petition had 5,252 signatures. A GoFundMe page set up for Sam’s sister and mother had raised $69,810 as of Thursday evening.

For some who helped make flowers Thursday, the simple act of folding and refolding paper was just one little way to help a grief-rocked family.

“Everyone would like to be able to contribute something,” said Kathy Temple. “It’s just a way to be helpful without being in someone’s face.”


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