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Gestures Of Kindness, Signs Of Support Have Come From Everywhere



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As Newtown — and the country — begins to heal following the events that transpired at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, townspeople find it heartening to hear of special events that have been planned to raise funds for myriad projects. They also find it uplifting to hear of some special gestures of kindness that people have done to show Newtown that its residents are in the thoughts of those well outside our 60-plus square miles.

While this is by no means all of them, some of those that have been brought to the attention of The Bee in the past two weeks have been collected here.

The Koller family of Kyle, Texas, decorated a tree in their subdivision on December 15 in honor of the victims.

“Several new trees were planted in our subdivision of Plum Creek last spring and for some reason, people began decorating them,” Adrienne M. Koller wrote to The Bee via e-mail on December 20. “On Saturday, our family decorated an ornament for every victim of Friday’s tragedy and placed them on one of the trees.

“We made a Sandy Hook Elementary tree in their honor,” she continued. “The tree is decorated in blue to honor the Connecticut flag, and among the individual ornaments are an angel, a cross, and a 2012 and Peace ornament.”

Neighbors of the Kollers (which include, in addition to Adrienne, Michael, Hunter, Kassandra, and Steven) were also invited to add to the tree.

“Our hearts and thoughts are with the families and community of the Sandy Hook tragedy. May the angels of Sandy Hook find peace and know that our family in Texas will hold them safe in our hearts,” Ms Koller added.

Newtown Nail Spa owner Suzy Lee received a donation of $300 from a woman named Tammy Klein in New Jersey. Ms Klein said she wanted that money to go toward manicures for the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Ms Lee, in turn, decided to double match this amount because she does not want to have to turn people away if they would like to take advantage of the office, so she has contributed $600 of her own.

(While this will cover many manicures for students, it still will not cover all. Children’s manicures are $10. Additional contributions toward the fund would still be appreciated, according to Ms Lee. Contact the spa at 203-364-1577.)

Major League Baseball honored Sandy Hook with a moment silence last Friday.

The Virginia Tech football team has added decals on their helmets that read Prevail, a tribute from the scene of one mass shooting to another. The sticker, in the shape of a ribbon, features the number 58 — the combined murder count from the December 14 shooting in Sandy Hook and the April 2007 shooting at Tech’s Blacksburg campus. The lower left side of the ribbon is orange (one of the school’s two official colors), and the lower right side is green, with the initials SH. The Hokies will wear the special sticker on their helmets during the Russell Athletic Bowl on December 28. The coaching staff will also reportedly honor the victims by wearing an orange, white, and green ribbon, held together by a Virginia Tech pin on the side of their hats, according to the NCAA.

Xavier University is paying tribute to the shooting victims by way of their basketball uniforms. The school’s basketball team debuted new uniforms on December 22 when they played Wofford. Comprising Sandy Hook’s green and white school colors, the front of the uniforms donned by the Xavier Musketeers now feature the words Sandy Hook and each player’s number. Rather than adding traditional logos on the shorts and shirts, the words Sandy Hook were the only name planted on the team’s jerseys.

Xavier is also auctioning off the used uniforms on GoXavier.com. All proceeds will benefit The Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Jerseys and shorts (also white and green, but without lettering and with the team’s mascot on the left leg) are available through the auction (each being sold separately), with 26 items available before the auction closes on January 4 at 5 pm. Winning bidders will receive their item, along with a letter from the Xavier Athletic Department including language, per NCAA bylaws, indicating the limited use of the shorts in a manner that would not result in a NCAA violation.

On December 22, The Children’s Book Illustrators Guild of Minnesota held a special art event to create a work of art for Sandy Hook Elementary School. The event, called Smiles for Sandy Hook Elementary and held in The Inez Greenberg Gallery of Blooming Theatre and Art Center, had children and adults from the area create personalized works of art on 4-by 4-inch squares of paper.

For four hours, ten tables that had been set up with paint, pencils, and stamps to decorate the squares welcomed a steady stream of people. Hundreds of squares were decorated, and they will eventually be assembled into one large work of art and sent to Sandy Hook Elementary School (or Chalk Hill School).

The entire event was free thanks to the generosity of local organizations, and it was organized by children’s book illustrator Scott Spinks.

“Once delivered to the school, we hope to display all of the art in an effort to bring joy and smiles back to the halls of the school,” Mr Spinks said via e-mail to The Newtown Bee on December 16.

If you noticed that there were Newtown Police cruisers and other PD vehicles in town on Tuesday, but that none of the officers behind the wheel looked familiar, there was good reason for that. Police officers from other towns agreed to work on Christmas Day as part of a grassroots effort from throughout the law enforcement community in nearby areas, so that Newtown police could have time off.

Speaking of the local police department, Bette Ann Rice reportedly paid a visit to 3 Main Street last week. Mrs Rice, the widow of Westchester County police sergeant Charles Rice Jr, who died in the line of duty, delivered dozens of cupcakes — along with her thanks — to the first responders at the police department as well as the town’s fire stations.

Meanwhile, countless fundraisers are being done across the country to support to locally created funds. Among the many is one launched by Braintree Fire Department in Braintree, Mass. Stickers For Support, coordinated by Firefighter Robbie Loud, offers stickers that have combined Sandy Hook School’s colors and the town crest. One of the designs also features 26 stars, one for each victim at the school. In addition to selling the stickers in town and across the country, Braintree’s firefighters have reportedly been wearing the stickers on their helmets.

Letters, poems, songs, ornaments, and stuffed animals have been arriving steadily at The Bee’s offices since December 14. Many of the letters have been published on our website (NewtownBee.com, under the Opinions tab), arranged by the date they were received. Letters of support have arrived from Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand, California, Nevada, Maine and Florida, among countless other locations, as well as from across the state. People have been taking the time to just reach out and tell Newtown that they are thinking of the people of the town.

Jewish mandel bread baked by a cousin of Sherie Roberts was delivered to The Newtown Bee’s office last week. Think double chocolate biscotti and you will have an idea of the wonderful treat that was among the sweet gestures shown The Bee’s staff as they worked on the December 21 issue of the paper. Thanks out to siblings Matthew and Carrie Roberts, and Carrie’s fiancé Rob Poit, who stopped in with the mandel and lots of hugs.

The mandel bread was just one special delivery of baked goods, fruit plates, clementines and a bag of apples, a dozen pizzas from a fellow newspaper staff in Mississippi, coffee and much more that has been helping The Bee staff work through the long days that have been put in for the past two weeks. Notes have come in from newspapers large and small, local and international. All are very much appreciated.

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