The thoughts and prayers of millions have supported Newtown since last Friday's
From cookies and coats to yoga classes and class supplies, massages and meals, pets and pies are among the donations from a world that wants to help Newtown.
"Teddy bears, teddy bears, teddy bears and teddy bears," says Carl Samuelson, the assistant director of parks and recreation in Newtown. He supervises a 20,000-square-foot garage where items sent to the town are being stored. Also, "hams, turkeys, flowers, trees, plants, books, everything, from all over the world."
And the pace is picking up.
Many of the good deeds appear to have been inspired by a tweet last weekend from
The list gets longer every day of people trying to help.
The Newtown General Store offered free coffee Wednesday, courtesy of
The Brass Mill Center mall in
Northwest Catholic High School in
The Build A Bear Workshop in the
Perhaps, the most heartbreaking donation is funeral services. "[About] 160 funeral directors are mobilized in the state. They are volunteering their time to help out," says Diana Duksa-Kurz of
At least one funeral home, Honan, which is working with 11 Newtown families, and possibly other funeral homes, are not charging for their services to the Newtown families.
"Our profession is based on helping others," Duksa-Kurz said. "When serving a family that has lost a child, it's a way for us to give back."
Duksa-Kurz said that other funeral directors from around the country have offered to fly out at their own expense to help.
Some of the good deeds that have captured headlines include New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz's visit to the family of Jack Pinto, a 6-year-old victim of the tragedy who was laid to rest wearing a replica of a Cruz jersey; and the NBC TV show
Want To Help, Too?
United Way's Dynia says that there is no central place for people to go to donate non-monetary goods and services. "They're still figuring that out. It's really hard to know because it's all so new."
A few places, Dynia says, are becoming central clearing houses for information, donations and relief, especially the website, http://www.211ct.org. That website urges potential volunteers not to just show up in Newtown unless they are contacted.
Jim Siemianowski, of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, says that so many people have volunteered mental-health services for the survivors and families that he now encourages them to volunteer through http://www.211ct.org.
"It's becoming somewhat overwhelming, the management of all the donations," Siemianowski said. "It's kind of a balancing act between these very well-intentioned folks and where you can plug them in, and will it be of assistance."
Kyle Lyddy, a 25-year-old lifelong resident of Newtown, set up a "We Are Newtown" page on Facebook. The busy and fact-filled page, which now has more than 17,000 "likes," has become a stopping place for people looking to send a message or other offerings.
"It's been completely overwhelming, a surreal experience, this outpouring of support from all around the world," said Lyddy, who was a team manager for the
Lyddy said he set up the page to cast a positive light on his hometown, and to streamline information about donating. "Hundreds of different organizations have been created in the last few days in town," he said. "When people are looking for things to do and how to help, I want them to find the most appropriate [recipients]."
Lyddy said that a man from Rhode Island contacted him to send 2,500 teddy bears to a vigil in town last weekend. "I hooked him up with the Newtown Hook and Ladder Fire Department," he said.
Many items from Lyddy's Facebook page tell stories: "Starbucks in Newtown had a donor from Philadelphia today to pay for the morning orders. Soccer coaches from New Jersey came to help organize games for kids. One person purchased 26 Christmas trees to honor the victims and for the town to decorate. A local group came and sang carols under the Sandy Hook Christmas tree."
Other stories Lyddy tells are more dramatic. "One woman stopped everything she was doing on Saturday and went to the airport. She told the airlines what she was doing. They charged her $10 for the flight to come to Newtown," he says. "Not knowing anybody, she went to a local facility to help."
That local facility was Newtown Youth Academy, a private sports and fitness center. Bess Donofrio of the Academy said that organization is "a comfort hub, at this point."
"Lots of clients and members have been gracious enough to step aside to give up their rental times on the turf and in the field house to accommodate people in the town and students," Donofrio said. "There has been a huge response."
Donated food items have been given to the families of Sandy Hook students and to fire stations, and the flowers to schools, cemeteries and senior living facilities.
Samuelson said he has no suggestions about what people should send. "I would never tell someone how to grieve. Everybody grieves in their own way," he said. The address to send items is Messages of Condolence for Newtown, P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470.
Samuelson pointed out, however, a link on http://www.newtown-ct.gov/ to donate to the Park Gift Fund.
Lyddy said that We Are Newtown has produced T-shirts. Every Sandy Hook child will receive one on the first day of school. Others are being sold to raise money.
Elsewhere On Facebook
More stories about acts of kindness are being posted each day on websites and on Facebook.
Dawn Grande Briggs, of Newtown, posted on the