Light is truly shining out of the darkness of the evil that tragically took place last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary. Being a Newtown resident with personal attachments to those directly affected and a former alumnus of Sandy Hook Elementary, words cannot express the pain. But the actions that are taking place left and right throughout our community and across the country can speak to the truth that the light in the darkness is shining…and it is shining brightly.
We are speaking of a community that is clothing one another in an unspeakable blanket of love. A beautiful community filled with selfless hearts and benevolent souls. A community that will not be destroyed by evil.
Passing through the town of Newtown and the surrounding towns, hardly a business is seen without a sign expressing words of comfort for the community. Droves of people come out to pray and light candles for loved ones and those they never even knew. Churches are taking action. Compassionate individuals are arming themselves with light.
Numerous relief funds and aid efforts have been launched. Memorial foundations have been created in honor of many of the children’s names who were victims. The U.S. Postal Service added a P.O. Box for those who wish to send letters to the Newtown community. Former graduates of Newtown Public Schools have returned home from college to raise funds for families affected, entitling their mission: Santas for Sandy Hook. The Sandy Hook School Support Fund has been set up via the United Way of Western Connecticut in conjunction with Newtown Savings Bank. Even the popular band One Direction has started a fund.
Nine year old Jenna Eldred of Wayne County, Pennsylvania, started ‘Jenna’s Teddy Bears of Love’ campaign to raise donations to buy a teddy bear for each student at Sandy Hook.
“I think that the teddy bears will make them happy, because they’re really soft and cuddly,” she said.
Several groups and agencies have set up counseling services, such as Lutheran Church Charities based in Illinois. They have set up a comfort dog initiative to console surviving children and victims’ families in which a team of 10 specially trained Golden Retrievers have been sent to console. Lutheran Church Charities President Tim Hetzner states that the dogs “are nonjudgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone.” It is well known that the mere presence of the breed is a soothing source of solace. “The dogs have become the bridge,” said Lynn Buhrke, handler for female golden retriever, Chewie.
Churches are raising funds and holding prayer services and grief counseling for those affected. St. Rose of Lima church in Littleton, NH is creating a prayer book for their sister parish, St. Rose of Lima in Newtown, CT and for the community. Walnut Hill Community Church of Bethel, CT has set up a fund through their ‘Little White Boxes’ campaign every Christmas season, in which a portion of the proceeds this year will go toward the care of those affected.
The community in Newtown and in the surrounding towns is utterly amazing. The town of Monroe has offered up former Middle School, Chalk Hill School, as the new school home for the students of Sandy Hook. Dozens of businesses and individuals are offering their services and help to make the school similar to the school that they know and love in order to bring a sense of security and normalcy back into the children’s lives. Desks and cubbies are being placed exactly as they were. A paint contractor donated paint so that the building will look exactly the way it did.
Everywhere you turn, love is being poured out, service is present, and a true spirit of community is taking place in the midst of such horrific sorrow.
Robbie Parker, whose daughter, Emilie, was placed into the hands of the Lord on Friday, offered up beautiful words of power and encouragement, stating, “As we move on from what happened here—what happened to so many people—let it not become something that defines us. But something that inspires us to be better, to be more compassionate and more humble people. Let us please keep the sentiments of love that we feel for our families, and the compassion that we feel for others—even complete strangers—keep them with us at all times, not just in times of sorrow and tragedy.”
These are the type of people who define this community. These are the type of people with whom darkness has tampered with…and it will not win. Surely, light is shining and love is prevailing.
For we know that “We are persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed,” (2 Cor. 4: 9).