By David Leonard, Director of Marketing & Development
On December 14, 2012, twenty children and six adult staff members were killed in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. President Barack Obama gave a televised address the day of the shootings, saying, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” Obama expressed “enormous sympathy for families that are affected”.
Being so far away from the grieving families of the Sandy Hook tragedy, we knew that our New Hope family had to do something that was going to be useful and practical. Our Executive Director, Sue Beeney, had been in contact with point people in the area, she asked them what their greatest need was. Unfortunately, with all of the chaos, pain, and heartache no one was too sure what could be done to help, so we just prayed from a distance.
Over the next several months we continued to watch the news, read newspaper articles, and witness our entire nation rise up and show love in different ways for the Sandy Hook community. As we continued to discuss ways we could do our part to support them, a New Hope volunteer had an idea. It was simple, raise money and send copies of our Kids Journey of Grief workbook for the surviving friends of the victims. After the meeting our wonderful volunteer, Donni Knepper, made her idea a reality.
Over the next few months Donni began to reach out to her friends, family, neighbors, and whoever would listen to her cause. Our entire New Hope family was joining her, utilizing our reach via social media and friends to help raise the money. Within a short period of time we collectively had raised $1,600, which was enough to purchase 80 workbooks. Our publisher, Vision Unlimited Press stepped up and donated 20 workbooks to make it an even 100.
Now that we had 100 books to send to the grieving community of Sandy Hook, we needed to make sure the books were going to end up in the hands of children who could benefit from them. After doing some homework about the follow-up care taking place in Newton, Sue connected with Pastor Rocky Veach, who oversees TORCH Ministries and leads Connections Church with wife Bobbi Veach. Pastor Rocky had been working with a number of the families affected by the shooting. He was able to connect us to others in the area who had been directly working with the families.
Exactly six months later after the shooting, on June 14th New Hope shipped off the 100 books to Newtown Connecticut, it was an emotional day for all of us. The books were sent to social workers at the Red Cross, a Principal at a nearby elementary school, and the local faith community. Only six months prior an act of violence took place that claimed 27 innocent lives—now we were sending more than books, but a box that represented hope and healing for the journey that the grieving families of Newtown, CT were taking.
New Hope is committed to serving grieving families, regardless of location, no distance is too great. We are humbled by the generosity of all who contributed to this cause, and are deeply moved by our faithful volunteers.