An online fundraising website has already collected more than $5000 for the William "Billy" Garrity Scholarship Fund, just two weeks after friends of the Garrity family came up with the idea and launched the site.
“We were trying to think of ways to help out with the Garrity family and all that’s happened in the last couple weeks in Northbrook, so I created this page to raise money for the scholarship fund that they’re starting up at Glenbrook North," said Daniel Malter, 21, a Glenbrook North alumnus and friend of the Garrity family who created the online fundraiser.
“We didn’t want to do something too extreme so that the family might feel uncomfortable, so we thought this would be the perfect way to help them.”
William "Billy" Garrity, a Glenbrook North senior, committed suicide in June. Tragedy continued for the community after that. Later that month, GBN graduate Ryan McCarthy also committed suicide. Then, in July, Kyle Caraher, a Glenbrook North student, died in a car accident.
According to Paul Pryma, principal of Glenbrook North High School, school officials are still working out the details of a scholarship in Billy's memory.
“Billy was loved in this community and I’m sure the response is going to be generous and overwhelming,” Pryma said.
Part of the money funding the scholarship will come from sales of the Compassion It bracelet, on sale at Northbrook's La De Da for $5. The black and white rubber bracelets were conceived by a small group of social activists which includes Glenbrook North alumna, Casey Tanner, 21, another friend of the Garrity family.
"I think when Compassion It came to Northbrook, people thought it was over," Tanner said. "Like there would be no more suicides, there would be no more deaths because now we’re starting the recovery process.”
Tanner said half the proceeds from bracelet sales will be distributed three ways among Billy's scholarship fund, the Caraher family and the McCarthy family.
“I was at Billy Garrity’s funeral and the pastor mentioned that what the family is really asking for from people is that they practice random acts of kindness in Billy’s name," Tanner said. "That’s exactly what the Compassionate It bracelets encourage."
Compassion It bracelets come in packs of two, one to wear and one to share. People with the bracelet are encouraged to start the day with the black side facing out, until they perform an act of kindness, then flip the bracelet over. The fundraiser's Facebook page features stories from people who were inspired to act with compassion after buying the bracelet.
One such story, as posted by a Facebook user named Leslie Flinn, shares an instance when a person gave "Shedd Aquarium Movie ticket passes to a young family waiting in an hour long line for admission. (They were going to skip the movie because it was too expensive)."