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Community ‘Litter-ally’ Shows Support For CHB Foundation’s ‘StoryWalk’



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There were “good dogs” and “great listeners” in Sandy Hook Village on February 22, when families, therapy dogs, and handlers converged for a “StoryWalk” hosted by the Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation (CHB Foundation) in cooperation with the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP).

Pages from the book Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter, by Renata Bowers, with JoAnn and Joel Bacon, were prominently enlarged and on display at participating businesses around Sandy Hook for the event. As families and young children made their way to stations, volunteers read from the displayed pages of the book. Groups that followed the StoryWalk from start to finish heard the book read to them from the beginning to the end.

Event-goers were given maps showing the 17 locations to follow, starting at Newtown United Methodist Church and heading down Church Hill Road for stops on Glen Road, Riverside Road, and Washington Avenue. Along the way, groups of Newtown-Strong Therapy Dogs and handlers stood in spots to greet walkers. Sixteen Newtown-Strong Therapy Dogs were reportedly on hand for the event.

When groups arrived back at Newtown United Methodist Church to hear the final page of the book read aloud, Ms Bacon and Ms Bowers were ready for them. As one group of five young friends, still bouncing from the brisk walk up Church Hill Road, huddled around the display, Ms Bowers and Ms Bacon read together, “Good dogs. Great listeners. Good night.”

Ms Bacon — who, with her husband, cofounded the foundation to honor the legacy of their daughter, Charlotte, who was one of 26 people killed at Sandy Hook School, December 14, 2012 — estimated it took each walking group about 45 minutes from start to finish.

Other CHB Foundation volunteers and members were also at the event, greeting walkers, sharing information about the day and the foundation, or reading pages from the book.

When the book was launched five years ago on what would have been Charlotte’s 9th birthday, Ms Bacon reflected, there was a snowstorm. This year, on what would have been Charlotte’s 14th birthday, the sun shone on a springlike day as walkers made their way to each stop.

Ms Bowers said one of the first visitors to the StoryWalk told her that she has never seen Sandy Hook Village look “so alive.”

Children were bouncing, running by friends, and petting dogs throughout the event as parents and others walked nearby.

Free copies of Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily and the Litter were given to the first 50 participating families.

“It’s going wonderful,” said Mr Bacon, about halfway through the StoryWalk.

The CHB Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It establishes and supports programs that share Charlotte’s passion, kindness, and tender care for animals, children, and families, according to a release for the event. Learn more about the foundation by visiting charlottehelenbaconfoundation.org.

Tina Nicodemo of Danbury and Newtown-Strong Therapy Dog Grady quickly become friends at the February 22 Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation Storywalk event in Sandy Hook on February 22. Grady’s handler, Kathleen Yeaton, was one of 16 attending the event with their Newtown-Strong Therapy Dogs. —Bee Photos, Hallabeck
Renata Bowers, left, and JoAnn Bacon read to a group of StoryWalk friends at Newtown United Methodist Church on February 22 from the last page of Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily, and the Litter.
Handlers Joe Cusimano, left, and Marlene Curtis are outside of a Sandy Hook business ready to greet StoryWalk participants with Newtown-Strong Therapy Dogs Sundance and Paisley, on February 22.
Emma Early and Ava Carlson smile as they stand near two of the enlarged pages from Good Dogs, Great Listeners: The Story of Charlotte, Lily, and the Litter, near the center of Sandy Hook.
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