SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hundreds turned out for a vigil Sunday evening as a way of showing support for the victims of the suspected hazing that put an early end to Sayreville War Memorial High School’s football season.

“I want to praise the young men who did speak up. It takes a lot of guts and courage,” organizer Maureen Jenkins said.

Jenkins said she also wanted the event to send an anti-bullying message and provide support to the school district for deciding to put student safety ahead of football, 1010 WINS reported.

Attendees showed their support for the victims by lighting candles and wearing the school colors of blue and white, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

“I want to support the Sayreville High School kids. I used to go to school here,” said one attendee.

“We’re just here to stop bullying in Sayreville and anywhere else. Just stop the bullying,” said one woman.

“I know when I was on the soccer team there it was all about family and unity and character and just respect. And especially love, and this is just not love,” Janet, who graduated from the high school in 2011, told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern.

Seven high school football players have been charged in connection with hazing allegations that involved alleged sexual conduct.

The students, ranging in age from 15 to 17, are accused of holding the victims against their will and improperly touching them. One victim was also kicked in the head, prosecutors alleged.

The teen suspects were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, conspiracy to commit aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal restraint, and hazing, prosecutors said.

The incidents allegedly took place on four occasions last month, CBS 2’s Matt Kozar reported.

Sunday night’s rally began at 6 p.m. at Kennedy Park, located across the street from the high school.

Attendees were given balloons, ribbons, stickers and candles, and asked to walk around the park’s lake before releasing the balloons.

“It’s a community hurting right now,” said Rev. Thomas Ryan.

Ryan is part of the newly formed community coalition to help lead a stunned Sayrville through this ordeal, CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported.

“I look forward to offering services that we can, look for resources that are necessary,” Ryan said.

Classes will resume this week at the high school where it’s unclear if the unidentified victims or the suspects will return. The future of the football coach, and even the school principal, are in doubt, Langford reported.

“One of my friends, I’ve known him since kindergarten, and it’s really sad to see him not come back to school because of what happened,” freshman Patrick Smith said. “I’m hoping they feel strong enough to come back to school. And when they come back to school, a lot of me and my friends will sit at the lunch table if no one wants to.”

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