TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Thirty-nine thousand. That's how many items the January 8 Memorial Foundation collected from spontaneous memorials that popped up after the shootings.
Teddy bears, art work and so many heartfelt messages like one from an elementary school student written in crayon.
"'I hope you feel better soon, I wish I could visit you soon, I'm sorry you're not feeling well,'" reads Foundation President Karen Christensen. "And then there's a picture of the child and a beautiful princess which is obviously Gabrielle Giffords."
The members of the foundation hope to find a home for all of the items but first they want to give Tucson a place to reflect outside of the Old Pima County Courthouse. In January, the courthouse was designated as the permanent location for the memorial, and part of the foundation's vision is to include an outside memorial in El Presidio Park.
For that, the foundation is seeking designers to bring that vision to life.
"We're looking for that wonderful designer whose going to say 'I know how to honor these two things, I want it to be a place of inspiration, but also have it be a place of remembrance,'" said Christensen.
Six people were killed that day, and 13 others wounded including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Those killed were Christina Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman.
The foundation will accept design applications until the end of September and then choose five finalists. The finalists will have a chance to talk with board members, survivors, families of the victims and the community before they come up with their concepts.
They also will get a chance to see all of the 39,000 items collected from memorials, and decide if they want to include that in the final design.
Once they submit a concept, community meetings will be held before the panel makes a final decision on the design next year. The foundation hopes to have the memorial completed by January 8, 2017.
Christensen says the foundation hopes community members and visitors alike will see the memorial and use it as a place to remember the events of that day but also quietly reflect.
"We want them to remember what was a very sad and traumatic event in Tucson's history but we also want them to be inspired by that Together We Thrive spirit," she said. "And knowing that working together and that spirit and compassion that Tucson has will really come out."
More information on how to apply for this project can be found here.