Top of the Mountain, from the issue dated February 22, 2013

The Newtown High School Winter Guard will have its next bottle and can drive this weekend, at three locations. Team mom Robin Allen called this week to let us know, however, that this weekend’s collection will run for two hours instead of the regular three. Team members and parents will be set up at the parking lots of Newtown High School, Newtown Middle School, and Reed Intermediate School on Saturday from 10 am until noon. They will be thrilled with any donation of clean, returnable cans and bottles. This fund drive is the second this year for the team, who will use all of the nickels raised through Saturday’s efforts to help cover the anticipated costs of attending the Winter Guard International Championships in Dayton in April.

Speaking of looking for some help, The HealingNewtown Arts Space is in need of volunteers to greet visitors, answer questions, answer the phone, and perform other administrative duties. Three and four-hour shifts, on a regular basis, are available weekdays, evenings and weekends at the location that celebrated its formal grand opening last week with visits from Governor Dannel Malloy, First Selectman Pat Llodra, and more presentations of the art that has been quietly going on in the former storefront for a few weeks. Newtown Cultural Arts Commission Chair Jennifer Johnston and other volunteers are hoping to make the location a permanent fixture in town, and one of the things that will help make that happen is a steady stream of people helping. Anyone who can offer time is invited to visit www.HealingNewtown.org/heal.php. While the form on that page does say HealingNewtown Artist Submission, use the drag-down menu under Type of Commitment and click on Volunteer Time, then follow the remaining prompts.

Bring Newtown Together, Be One Forever is a fundraiser being organized by Aly Montague to help raise money for benches that will eventually be placed within a memorial for victims of 12/14. The event will take place on Saturday, February 23, from 10 am until 4:30 pm, in the gymnasium of Edmond Town Hall, 45 Main Street. Cost to enter is $10 per child. With each paid admission children will be given ten raffle tickets they can distribute through the games, arts and crafts, or carnival food. In addition to all the children’s activities, adults can buy raffle tickets at the door to take chances on raffle baskets. There will also be silent auctions, a bake sale, and merchandise also available for purchase. Proceeds will be earmarked to help pay for benches within a permanent memorial for 12/14 through WeAreNewtown.org. For further information contact Missy Santos at 203-948-3374.

On Sunday, The Town of Newtown will be holding the Community Giveaway at Reed Intermediate School in the gym that has been organized to distribute items such as toys, stuffed animals, school supplies, blankets, bikes, etc to Newtown’s residents as was intended by their donors following 12/14. The event will be open to only Sandy Hook Elementary School families and faculty from noon until 3 pm. A Sandy Hook Elementary School Green Badge or faculty ID plus driver’s license must be presented for entry during this time. There will be no exceptions. All other Newtown students and their families may attend from 3 to 6 pm. A driver’s license must be presented to verify residency during this time. The event and its activities, which will include art projects, juggling, music and more, are geared toward the children of this community.

Last Sunday, Sharon Longo was with a group that was skating at Fairfield Hills when they met a man named Keith Bellizzi, who was there with his two daughters. Sarah, one of the daughters, had wanted to do something special for our town, so she arranged for Wood Acres Farm out of Terryville to bring their beautiful horses and carriage to give rides to children in Newtown on February 18. Keith and his girls — who look like they are about elementary school age themselves — drove from the Hartford area last Sunday, and offered carriage rides to at least a group of third grade students from Hawley School. “We were so lucky to be there … and we enjoyed so much this wonderful experience on a gorgeous, sunny day. We are so grateful,” Sharon said.

At the end of January, Jim Borst of Sandy Hook found out he needed to be in Oro Valley, Ariz., for a business meeting in a couple of weeks. Jim and his wife Laurie decided to make a week of it, “and enjoy the Valley of Sun,” Laurie told me this week, freshly home from the couple’s recent travels. On the day Jim was in his business meeting last week, Laurie went into Tucson to City Hall with some mementos from her hometown to give to the mayor’s office as a small thanks for the banner they sent us, now hanging on railroad bridge over Church Hill Road. “Mayor Jonathan Rothschild took 15 minutes from his busy schedule,” said Laurie, “to talk with me about Tucson’s experience and ours. I felt quite humbled that he would allow me so much time. The sense of community and oneness was palpable.”

A Montreal, Canada, resident is hoping to collect stories about children from around the country to eventually share with Newtown, to help people heal following the events of 12/14. Myron Welik, a father of two, wrote a book called Snapshots of Heaven, under his pen name Michael Wells, a few years ago. The book shares stories about his children. Mr Welik is hoping to combine the spirit of his book with the effort to share stories of children with the world. According to his website, www.snapshotsofheaven.com, Snapshots of Heaven gives readers a much-needed reminder to slow down and enjoy those precious moments with children, for as the author states, “that’s when we truly get a glimpse of what heaven is like.” Mr Welik is also set to donate 1,000 copies of his book to Newtown, and will let the town know when the shipment is made. Mr Welik is hoping many people share stories about their children with him to share with Newtown eventually. More information about his effort is available on his website and, Mr Welik said, people can contact him by e-mail to submit a story, or learn how, at mwelik@yahoo.com.

The Newtown Visiting Nurse Association has provided health and medical services for more than 90 years, including, they would like to remind everyone, a free medical loan closet. The VNA maintains a well-stocked supply of wheelchair and other durable medical equipment available to residents who have a temporary need for items such as crutches, commodes, canes, etc. Local residents can call 203-270-4377 to make requests and arrangements. Remember, the Newtown VNA motto is “No one is ever denied essential services because of an inability to pay.”

Mary Pat Carroll Johnson Brigham says it has been 59 years since she lived in Newtown, but as an uninterrupted Newtown Bee subscriber since 1953, she was quick to spot herself in the lineup of Hawley lady basketball players that appeared in the Way We Were column on February 8. Mary Pat says that she dates the photo as the 1945-46 team, and “Hallelujah! At some earlier date, I had listed the names of everyone on the back,” she writes us from Vermont. Violet Bally is the girl crouched down, she says, and identifies the others as Marie Cavanaugh, Ruth Karrmann, Ruth Krafsick, Joan Pelletier, Mary Hawley, (Violet Bally), Joan Weeks, Nancy Bayeth, Mary Lou Bradley, Mary Pat Carroll, Martha Rothe, Shirley Beardsley, Shirley Shannon, Bernice Carty, and Miss Anderson. “Joan Weeks looks so tall, she must be standing on her tiptoes,” Mary Pat says of her friend, with whom she remains in contact, to this day. Thank you, Mary Pat, for your helpful input!

And I will thank you if you remember to return to this space one week from now to… read me again.

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