CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Since the start of 2017, Jewish Community Centers and schools across the country have been under constant threat.
Monday, 21 bomb threats were called into JCCs in 13 states, including North Carolina, bringing the total number of threats for 2017 up to 90.
President Donald Trump began his first speech to Congress Tuesday by condemning the recent bomb threats at JCCs across the country.
Meanwhile, a nationwide movement promoting unity is now getting some traction in the Queen City.
“Part of me wants to believe these are stupid teenagers, you know calling these places, but I recognize that anti-Semitism is a real issue and I don’t think we can just sweep it under the rug and pretend this isn’t as serious as it really is,” says Erin Kirsch, whose family belongs to the Shalom Park Jewish Community Center on Providence Road in Charlotte.
“I’m not Jewish, but we found this to be a really amazing community and they’ve been incredibly welcoming. We swim there, I work out there, I take my kids to storytime,” says Kirsch.
Officials say Shalom Park has been targeted twice this year; the most recent threat was called in anonymously on Monday, which forced portions of the school to evacuate. Kirsch says she was driving her son to the center when she heard about the threat on the radio.
“I was wondering, 'do I go, do I take him there?' And I realized after that, that’s why people are doing this. They want to create fear, and so I just wanted to reach out to the community at large,” says Kirsh.
Kirsch is taking a stand for the Jewish Community Center and against the latest round of threats nationwide.
That’s when Kirsh reached out to other local women on the M2M-Women’s group. Part of her post read, “I'd love to find a way to make this community feel safe and cared for in the wake of these terrible incidents. Beyond continuing to participate, any ideas?”
Nearly 40 women responded almost instantly, including Amanda Bonaviri, who offered up signs which read “Hate Has No Home Here.”
The signs are part of a national campaign in which people place the signs in their yards and windows to promote inclusiveness. Bonaviri said she had 50 of the signs printed up, but within minutes, women in the group had claimed each of them.
In an effort to print more and hand them out throughout Charlotte, she opened a GoFundMe account, which says, "Charlotte is home to people of all ages, races, and religions. We speak different languages, have all kinds of families and identities, share varied interests, and abilities. What we have in common is that we find home here, where all are welcome.
"To demonstrate our continued commitment to a community where all feel safe, we have developed signs you can display on your front lawn or window reaffirming that "Hate Has No Home Here". In order to print and distribute the signs, we're asking for your donation so that all those neighbors interested in a sign may receive one regardless of their ability to pay."
Kirsh says in addition to placing a sign in her yard, she and other women are still planning to reach out to Shalom Park to offer their support.
“The message I want to teach my children is tolerance and inclusion, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to change everybody’s mind, but I want people who may feel marginalized in Charlotte to know that there are people who care and who are inclusive,” says Kirsch.
Based on the popularity of the signs, it appears she's winning the war of words against hate.
The FBI has announced they are investigating the threats. So far, none of the threats have been credible.