CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – More than 350 students from UNC-Chapel Hill’s dental school kicked off an annual day of service Thursday in memory of the Chapel Hill shooting victims.
The students have established an annual event called “DEAH DAY,” which stands for Directing Efforts And Honoring Deah And Yusor.
Each year, classes and clinics will be canceled so students can volunteer in the Triangle to pay tribute to the memory of Deah Barakat, who was a UNC dental student, and his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, who was about to enroll at the school.
Deah Barakat, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot Feb. 10 at the Finley Forest Condominiums on Summerwalk Circle, just east of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Craig Stephen Hicks was arrested and charged with three counts of first-degree murder in their deaths.
Before Barakat died, he raised $20,000 and planned to visit Turkey to help provide dental care to Syrian refugees.
Months later, Barakat’s father and 50 other volunteers completed the trip.
After Deah and Yusor died, donations came pouring in totaling almost a million dollars to provide a week’s worth of dental and medical care to people who need it the most.
Students volunteered at various sites around the Triangle Thursday morning. One of those sites was at the “Light House” in Raleigh. The “Light House” is a piece of property that Deah owned that is being reconstructed into a community center.
“I came in here and started crying,” said Deah’s father Namee Barakat. “Seeing all the beautiful guys and girls doing what they can to help the situation and do something that Deah always loved to do.”
The Light House Project was one of 22 service projects performed on “DEAH DAY.” Students who know Deah and Your say a day of service is how they would want to be honored.
“They would always be hand-in-hand, working together and I think this definitely shows what they stood for and people are just carrying the torch and still working together,” said Shadi Sadi.
Those who organized “DEAH DAY” hope the day of service can eventually become a university-wide event.