CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Love is at the heart of a Charlotte organization, and the goal is to spread that love throughout the Queen City to stop deadly violence before it even happens.
"We come out to the community and we try to give -- and we challenge everybody to dig in that sock that you got, dig in that drawer you got and give to the community," said Bernel Berry, the founder of 1Love, which is a youth outreach organization serving the Charlotte-area.
Despite a recent spike in Charlotte gun violence – with some of the shooting victims as young as 1 and 3-years-old – Berry is hopeful their work is making a difference.
"I don't know about other areas, but here in Charlotte we have seen some change in different communities that we have worked in," Berry explained.
Sharing love through raising awareness about crime and police engagement in different neighborhoods has been Berry's primary focus for seven years through 1Love.
"In 2014 we started to realize how the communities were driven away from the police and we wanted to do something about that," Berry recalled.
Berry and volunteers made up of his relatives started to host events where they strategically invited police and community members to mingle. The intention was to break down barriers that often cause residents to fear law enforcement.
"Whether its clothes drives, whether there was food drives, back-to-school drives for the children… we would ask the police to be present and they would show up," Berry explained.
In the past, 1Love has worked with Food Lion to feed the hungry. Earlier this year 1Love launched a 24/7 hotline for teens to vent their frustrations instead of committing crimes. In September the group sponsored an event on Beatties Ford Road where Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police handed out free gun locks.
"We wanted to send a message out to the community to keep it safe," he said -- adding that safety is 1Love's ultimate goal in seeking a solution to violence in the community because he doesn't believe there's any fear in love.
"Just show them some love," Berry said. "That's what it takes. It takes everybody working together not just our organization but all organizations."