Students braved this week’s cold weather to honor the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, 21; and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, who were shot dead in their off-campus apartment earlier this month.
A special Merritt’s Mondays — a periodic lunch special held by Merritt’s Store and Grill from noon to 2 p.m. in the Pit — was held this week.
Proceeds from the event were donated to a newly established memorial fund that honors the lives of the three young people who were shot and killed Feb. 10 at Finley Forest Condominiums in Chapel Hill.
The fund was created by the UNC School of Dentistry — where Barakat was a student and Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha was planning to enroll in the fall.
Tiffany Brannan, spokeswoman for the School of Dentistry, said the fund is in the early stages of development but has received a large amount of support already. Brannan said administrators will meet this week to discuss the direction the fund will take.
Brannon said the fund is unofficially called the Barakat Memorial Fund.
“When we heard about Merritt’s Mondays switching their efforts to honor the lives of these individuals, we were delighted,” she said.
“It’s another way to help the school and community get through these tough losses. We are incredibly grateful for their efforts.”
Chris Elkins, manager of Merritt’s Store and Grill, said the call to help the community was a way to further live out the store’s vision.
“This event stands for a lot of what our store stands for. We are all about community and getting people together,” she said.
Elkins said the memorial fund was a way to heal from the tragedy.
“We were happy to switch over to sending the proceeds to the memorial fund,” Elkins said.
“It was perfect timing and a perfect setting to do that.”
Zack Newbauer — executive director of the Eve Carson Scholarship, which helps organize Merritt’s Mondays — said the turnout for the two events that have been held so far has been better than expected.
“In light of the events on campus in the past week, we wanted to do something special,” he said.
Newbauer said the event was a way to connect individuals with the community and the University.
“The important thing more than the money raised is simply providing an opportunity to engage with the community,” Newbauer said.
Andrew Wells, a junior economics major, said Monday’s fundraising event was valuable for the UNC community.
“I love the opportunity to provide any help I can to a great organization while also getting to eat Merritt’s; it’s a win-win,” he said.
“It’s a great move on all sides because it raises people’s awareness of a great scholarship and is great publicizing for a local restaurant.”