December 22, 2012

Nation's post-shooting generosity 'proof of the love in this country'

Newtown is overwhelmed by the generosity of a nation intent on helping the community recover.

The Associated Press

NEWTOWN, Conn. - Newtown's children were showered with gifts Saturday -- tens of thousands of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, soccer balls and board games -- still only a portion of the tokens of support from around the world for the city in mourning.

click image to enlarge

A message of support hangs over a table of donated toys Friday at the town hall in Newtown, Conn. People are being encouraged to give to other causes in the shooting victims’ memory.

The Associated Press

Robbie Parker
click image to enlarge

Robbie Parker, left, carries his daughter Madeline, 4, after the funeral Saturday at a Mormon church in Ogden, Utah, for his 6-year-old daughter, Emilie, a victim of the Newtown, Conn., shooting. The Parker family has roots in Ogden.

The Associated Press

Related headlines

Just a little over a week ago, 20 children and six school employees were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza, 20, killed his mother, attacked the school, then killed himself. Police don't know what set off the massacre.

Days before Christmas, funerals were still being held Saturday, the last of those whose schedules were made public, the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association said. A service was held in Utah for 6-year-old Emilie Parker. Others were scheduled in Connecticut for Josephine Gay, 7, and Ana Marquez-Greene, 6.

All of Newtown's children were invited to Edmond Town Hall, where they could pick a toy. Bobbi Veach, who was fielding donations at the building, reflected on the outpouring of gifts from toy stores, organizations and individuals around the world.

"It's their way of grieving," Veach said. "They say, 'I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out.' That's why we accommodate everybody we can."

The United Way of Western Connecticut said the official fund for donations had $2.6 million in it Saturday morning. Others sent envelopes stuffed with cash to pay for coffee at the general store, and a shipment of cupcakes arrived from a gourmet bakery in Beverly Hills, Calif.

ENOUGH FOR ANY CHILD IN NEED

The Postal Service reported a six-fold increase in mail in town and set up a unique post office box to handle it. The parcels come decorated with rainbows and hearts drawn by schoolchildren.

Some letters arrived in packs of 26 identical envelopes: one for each family of the children and staff killed or addressed to the "First Responders" or just "The People of Newtown." A card arrived from Georgia addressed to "The families of 6 amazing women and 20 beloved angels." Many contained checks.

"This is just the proof of the love that's in this country," said Postmaster Cathy Zieff.

Peter Leone said he was busy making deli sandwiches and working the register at his Newtown General Store when he got a phone call from Alaska. It was a woman who wanted to give him her credit card number.

"She said, 'I'm paying for the next $500 of food that goes out your door,'" Leone said. "About a half hour later another gentleman called, I think from the West Coast, and he did the same thing for $2,000."

At the town hall building, the basement resembled a toy store, with piles of stuffed penguins, dolls, games and other gifts. All the toys were inspected and examined by bomb-sniffing dogs before being sorted and put on card tables. The children could choose whatever they wanted.

"We're not checking IDs at the door," said Tom Mahoney, the building administrator, who's in charge of handling gifts. "If there is a child from another town who comes in need of a toy, we're not going to turn them away."

OTHERS NEED IT MORE

Many people have placed flowers, candles and stuffed animals at makeshift memorials that have popped up all over town. Others are stopping by the Edmond Town Hall to drop off food, or toys, or cash. About 60,000 teddy bears were donated, said Ann Benoure, a social services caseworker who was working at the town hall.

"There's so much stuff coming in," Mahoney said. "To be honest, it's a bit overwhelming; you just want to close the doors and turn the phone off."

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)