I grew up in New Milford, Connecticut, a town over from Newtown. On Friday morning, my Facebook feed exploded–well before the news of what was happening at Sandy Hook Elementary was actually on the news. All the surrounding towns’ schools were on lockdown, not just the schools in Newtown. No one knew what the hell was happening, but every two minutes it seemed like a worse piece of information was coming through.
By the afternoon, victims’ names were beginning to be released. The entire situation became, if possible, more heart-wrenching, as I saw how many members of my small hometown community had been directly affected.
One friend had worked with teacher Lauren Rousseau. Several friends knew and worked with principal Dawn Hochsprung, who had previously taught in the New Milford School District. A friend of a friend had been Adam Lanza’s tutor.
And. And, God help us. And a guy who went to my high school, Brian Engel, lost his six-year-old daughter Olivia.
This morning there was a false alarm, and schools in nearby Ridgefield and Reading, Connecticut were put on lockdown. A friend’s husband teaches in Ridgefield.
It’s too much. It’s too much for these small towns to bear on their own. I know that they are lifted up, as much as they can be, by the prayers, condolences, and support that are coming in from not just around our nation, but around the world.
I feel so helpless. I feel like I should be there, but the best thing I can do for my own family is to be here in Pennsylvania with them. In lieu of physically being there to help, all I can do offer my love and well-wishes, and to aid them, even in a small way, financially.
There are ways you can help. You can make a donation, no matter how small, to help grieving families access the psychological care they need, to allow grieving parents to be able to stay home with their children right now, and to make sure those victim’s names are not forgotten. You can offer condolences, even by Facebook. You can celebrate the lives of the children and educators who were lost, instead of focusing on the individual who took those lives away from us.
At the moment, here are the ways you can help. I’ll update this as more information comes in. Two of the funds are specific to individual families; the others are for the larger community. All the organizations are working together.
Friends of the Engel Family Fund 1 of 7"The purpose of these first donations is to help the family get through the next few weeks a little easier," wrote John Engel, an uncle of 6-year-old Olivia Engel, on the group's Facebook page. Fund organizers, which includes family and close friends, are working with financial planning experts and other organizations in the community to create a lasting impact for both this family and the larger community.
(Photo Credit: Tim Nosenzo Photography, courtesy of the Friends of the Engel Family Fund)
The Emilie Parker Fund 2 of 7The Emilie Parker Fund, a memorial fund to honor 6-year-old Emilie Parker is being organized in Utah, where Emilie was born.
"You can't go give them a big hug, you can't be there for them. We talked to them on the phone but that only helps so much," family friend Brad Shultz said to reporters from Salt Lake City's KSL. "Their family is here in Utah, they're all going to need to come back to Utah and hold services that they weren't planning on financially."
(Photo Credit: Emilie Parker Fund)
Newtown Memorial Fund 3 of 7The Newtown Memorial Fund, which is currently pursuing federal 501(3)(c) nonprofit status, has three main goals. In the short term, to provide financial relief for funeral expenses of those who perished in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy Massacre of December 14, 2012. The group also aims to assist the town with the design, placement and funding to donate a suitable lasting memorial(s) for our community in tribute to those lost. In the long run, planners hope to provide an annual scholarship fund to students of the Newtown Public Schools who will be going on to college.
(Photo Credit: Newtown Memorial Fund.)
The Sandy Hook School Support Fund 4 of 7The United Way of Western Connecticut, in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank has created the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to provide support services to the families and community that has been affected, as those needs continue to arise.
(Photo Credit: Newtown Savings Bank/United Way of Western Connecticut)
Newtown Youth & Family Services 5 of 7Newtown Youth and Family Services, a nonprofit mental health organization, is offering free support to those affected by the tragedy, without appointment. This organization kept their doors open all weekend, and continues to support the community. All donations to Newtown Youth and Family Services, from today through January 14, 2013, will go directly to their Caroline's Gift fund, a separate account for children under the age of 18 who require medical care and support.
American Red Cross 6 of 7The American Red Cross continues to provide food, water and emotional support for the community of Newtown, Connecticut at the request of local authorities. The Red Cross is working with state government and local partners to provide direct assistance for the affected families. This includes connecting families with Red Cross and community resources like mental health services during this difficult time. The Red Cross is also supporting a grief counseling center that is available for all Newtown residents.
The Red Cross has mobilized several response vehicles and nearly 150 trained workers to provide care and comfort for those in the affected community.
(Photo Credit: American Red Cross of Connecticut)
American Red Cross 7 of 7Since Friday, the Red Cross has served more than 8,400 meals and snacks in Newtown. In addition, during Sunday night's interfaith vigil at the Newtown High School, the Red Cross handed out hot coffee, 900 blankets and 300 stuffed puppy dogs to community members and those who came to support the community, standing outside on a cold, rainy evening.
(Photo Credit: Jake Tapper)
(Photo Credit: Mark Malcolm)
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