As Newtown residents keep trying to move forward and continue (or begin) healing following the shootings at Sandy Hook School on December 14, gestures of support and kindness continue to emerge. Some people have been directly inspired by the “26 Random Acts of Kindness” launched by NBC News Correspondent Ann Curry — originally suggested as “20 mitvahs/acts of kindness for each child lost in Newtown” by the NBC News reporter via her Twitter feed on December 16 — while others are simply trying to raise the spirits of everyone affected by what happened last month.
Newtown resident Todd Ingersoll personifies that kindness. Mr Ingersoll, the owner of Ingersoll Auto of Danbury, has offered to pay for the movies at Edmond Town Hall one night each month for the rest of this year. The special offer will begin this weekend.
“I just wanted to come up with something that was a little different,” Mr Ingersoll said Wednesday afternoon. “You feel helpless in so many ways, but I thought this would be a good way to give back to the community, and the town, that has been so good to not only my business, but also to my family.”
Mr Ingersoll and his wife Tami have lived in Newtown for “close to 16 years,” he said. When they first moved into town the family lived in Sandy Hook (the couple’s daughter Catie, currently a student at Newtown High School, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School) before relocating to their current home in Newtown. The Ingersolls’ sons, Daniel and Reed, were both Head O’ Meadow students (older son Daniel is now at Reed Intermediate).
“I was just trying to come up with a creative way that would provide some family time, in our town, that would appeal to everybody,” Mr Ingersoll said. “I thought this would be a good way to pay things forward.”
Tom Mahoney, who has been an employee at Edmond Town Hall for about 30 years, said this week that this was the first time he could think of where someone offered to cover so many tickets.
“We have done single nights in the past,” Mr Mahoney confirmed on January 9, “but absolutely not anything like this before.”
Free movie nights will be on the second Saturday of the month, except in February and November, when the town hall’s theater is already booked for concerts. In those cases, the free movie night will be offered on Friday.
The current schedule is as follows: January 12, February 8, March 9, April 13, May 11, June 8, July 13, August 10, September 14, October 12, November 8 and December 14. The offer is good only for the early show.
To take advantage of the offer, patrons simply have to show up for the movies.
“All you need to do is come to the box office and tell us how many tickets you want and we will give you that many,” said Mr Mahoney. “This way we can keep track of how many people see the movie that night, and then we will bill the Ingersolls for that month.”
Mr Ingersoll has heard about other acts of kindness that have been happening. He is not surprised that the suggestion to be kind has taken off in the public arena.
“Isn’t this who we are? This is what our community is — all these wonderful acts,” he said. “It isn’t surprising to anyone who lives here. This is why we live her.
“Our darkest minute cannot define our worst hour,” he continued. “We are better than this.”
This week’s feature at Edmond Town Hall is The Perks of Being A Wallflower. The film, according to its official website, “is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up.” It is set in a Philadelphia high school during the early 90s, and is an autobiographical coming-of-age tale from writer and director Steven Chbosky. It is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1:42.
The film stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Mae Whitman.
The full schedule for this feature is Friday through Sunday evenings, January 11-13, 7 and 9 pm; Monday through Thursday, January 11-17, 7 pm only; with matinees on Saturday at 1 and 4, and Tuesday at 1. Regular movie admission is $2.
Additional Signs Of Support
Newtown High School’s ice hockey team will be honoring all families, staff, friends of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and all emergency personnel and first responders of December 14 at its next game. The skating Nighthawks will be hosting Shepaug High School on Saturday, January 12, at Danbury Ice Arena. Game time is 1:50 pm.
The team will be wearing special green and white jerseys for the game against the Spartans. Admission is free, and NHS Varsity Ice Hockey Head Coach Paul Esposito is encouraging everyone attending to join his team in wearing green and white.
In addition, there will be items donated by Wesco Sporting Goods up for auction including autographed sticks by Alex Ovechkin and Tyler Seguin. Also, the Boston Bruins have donated a team jersey signed by the team in April 2012, which the will be raffled off at the end of the season.
Gestures of kindness and signs of support for Newtown continue to be reported around the country. A sampling includes:
*On December 18, according to former Newtown resident Karen Jossick Barnes, the students of St Matthew Catholic School, in Champaign, Ill., prayed a rosary for Newtown.
“I grew up in Newtown and haven’t lived there for awhile. I have always still felt like Newtown is home,” Mrs Barnes wrote to The Bee. “I still have family and friends there so we visit every few years. The recent events have been very difficult, we are all shocked and saddened by all that our wonderful hometown is going through.
“Please let the people of Newtown know we have them in our thoughts and prayers.”
*In Southbury on December 18, Connecticut State Trooper Orlando “Lonny” Mo, who responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, was invited to attend a Peace Light Ceremony. The ceremony shared a flame that had been started at The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the oldest church in the Holy Land still in use.
The light is taken from a candle in the Grotto of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem by a group of Austrian Scouts, who take it to Vienna. It is carried from there to be spread by scouts all over Europe, with one flame eventually flown into JFK Airport to continue its journey.
Trooper Mo, who is also a scoutmaster in Sharon, was invited by Ron Porell, a friend through scouting, to attend the ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. There, a small group of men lit lanterns off the flame from Bethlehem. Trooper Mo then drove his cruiser back to Sandy Hook, and put the lantern in the temporary care of Newtown United Methodist Church while he returned to his service as the liaison officer for the Sherlach family.
“The Peace Light, in its small way, is helping to comfort all those that find it,” said Trooper Mo, who left the lantern in Sandy Hook until Friday, December 21. At that point he took his lantern to his home in Torrington, but not before sharing the flame with members of the Church Hill Road church.
“The lantern came by state trooper, who asked us if we would like to take care of it for a few days,” Reverend Mel Kawakami, senior pastor of NUMC, told those gathered for worship service on December 23. “The flame has come here, all the way from Israel. It was a surprise. It just arrived. Before it left, we thought it would be OK for us to light our own lantern from that flame.”
And those 26 acts of kindness suggested by Ann Curry?
They have been reported around the globe and as close as our hometown.
A family from South Carolina had 26 poinsettias delivered to the village of Sandy Hook in late December. Employees of Sandy Hook Hair Co. moved them inside the salon at 112 Church Hill Road to keep them out of the cold.
On December 28, customers of Mexicali Rose were surprised with free tacos thanks to a donation from employees at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, Md. Eleven employees were inspired by some of the words of Veronique Pozner, who during the eulogy for her son Noah on December 17, said “most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos.”
The JHU employees pooled $125 so that the South Main Street eatery could hand out tacos in Noah’s memory.
Newtown resident Zack Taylor stopped at Shop-Rite in Brookfield last week and was the recipient of such an act. Mr Taylor found a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card “carefully stuck in the weaving of a shopping cart,” he said on January 2, shortly after finding the surprise gift. Attached to the card was a note that read, “In Loving Memory of Daniel Barden, age 7 / Newtown, CT / ’Spread Kindness.’”
“It was definitely left for someone to randomly find it,” said Mr Taylor. “Someone obviously took time and care with putting this together.”