A group of New York University students made the five-hour flight to Las Vegas this week to help to a city reeling from the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
A handful of students in NYU’s Bronfman Center, a Jewish student group, dropped off supplies and helped out at blood banks less than two days after a gunman opened fire from a 32nd-floor window from Mandalay Bay onto a Jason Aldean concert 600 yards away, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others. Student Rose Asafassaf said that she dropped everything for the chance to help.
"When the Bronfman Center reached out to me last night at 8:30 p.m. saying, 'hey do you want to go to Vegas tomorrow?,' I was like, 'absolutely!'" she said.
The trip came after the Bronfman’s director, Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, posted a call for volunteers and financial support to send students to Las Vegas to show solidarity with mourners, pay respects to victims and help with emergency response.
"The diverse audience included students who call Las Vegas home, and who personally know individuals who were at the concert when the shooting began," he said in a post on the group's blog.
And during their trip, they’ve already met other former and current tri-state residents doing their parts to help. Jon Merrill, a former defenseman for the New Jersey Devils now on the NHL’s newly-formed Las Vegas Golden Knights, dropped by the drive to encourage people to donate blood.
"(I came here to) lighten the mood a little bit, get some smiles on some people's faces," he said.
They also worked with Greg Yellin, a former Edison, New Jersey, resident who now leads Hillel Las Vegas and is is making sure students have an outlet following the student.
"They're college students but they can provide things too," he said. "They can donate their time, donate energy. Deliver things."
Dana Levinson Steiner, another member of NYU’s Bronfman Center, also tried to connect with the community at a deeper level, placing candles at a small memorial on the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, campus.
"From one campus to another we want to show our support we want to show our love. Our solidarity," she said.