Newtown may be a full 30-miles from the heart of Southington, but the senseless deaths of 26 people including 20 children sits heavy on everyone's heart.
The reaction across America has been united is asking an important question as we look to help our neighbors in western Connecticut: what can be done to help those now in a time of need?
For a few Southington residents, it wasn't enough to wait for someone to start a collection. Rachel Wache, a Southington resident and former president of American Legion Women's Auxiliary, is asking residents to purchase teddy bears and other age-appropriate stuffed animals for those in kindergarten and first grade.
The goal is to provide a stuffed animal for every child at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, as well as to the families of the victims, said E. Richard Fortunato, who has stepped up to provide pro bono publicity services and assist in collecting donations.
The announcement came during a memorial vigil at First Congregational Church on Sunday night.
"This morning, I spoke to Wache who is committed to making this happen and has begun making simple logistical arrangements to handle the collection and delivery," Fortunato said in his Southington Patch blog.
"Wache spoke about reaching out to the entire town, churches and faith congregations of all denominations, charitable, as well as civic, fraternal and service groups, with the hopeful spirit that Southington might once again show its generosity, compassion and caring character, with a truck load, or more, of comforting stuffed animals, marked 'for the children of Newtown, from Southington, with love'."
It's the type of public outpouring of support that President Barack Obama referenced Sunday during a vigil and memorial ceremony held at the St. Rose of Lima Chuch in Newtown.
"You are not alone in your grief. Our world, too, has been torn apart and all across this land of ours we have wept with you, we have pulled our children tight," Obama said. "You must know that any comfort we can provide, we will provide. Any portion of sadness we can bear for you, we will gladly bear. Newtown, you are not alone."
Show Newtown that they are in your hearts.
To help or for more information, you may call Rachel Wache at (860) 621-0890 or email E. Richard Fortunato at firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject "Stuffed Animals for Newtown."
Patch.com has also taken to collecting stuffed animals. For more information on "Operation Snuggle Newtown," click the link provided.
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