The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

December 23, 2012

Conn. town in mourning inundated with gifts, money

NEWTOWN, Conn. — Newtown's children were showered with gifts Saturday — tens of thousands of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, soccer balls and board games — but only a portion of the tokens of support from around the world for the city in mourning.

Just a little over a week ago, 20 children and six school employees were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, attacked the school, then killed himself. Police don't know what set off the massacre.

Days before Christmas, funerals were still being held Saturday, the last of those whose schedules were made public, the Connecticut Funeral Directors Association said. A service was held in Utah for 6-year-old Emilie Parker. Others were scheduled in Connecticut for Josephine Gay, 7, and Ana Marquez-Greene, 6.

All of Newtown's children were invited to Edmond Town Hall, where they could choose a toy. Bobbi Veach, who was fielding donations at the building, reflected on the outpouring of gifts from toy stores, organizations and individuals around the world.

"It's their way if grieving," Veach said. "They say, 'I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out.' That's why we accommodate everybody we can."

The United Way of Western Connecticut said the official fund for donations had $2.6 million in it Saturday morning. Others sent envelopes stuffed with cash to pay for coffee at the general store, and a shipment of cupcakes arrived from a gourmet bakery in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Postal Service reported a six-fold increase in mail in town and set up a unique post office box to handle it. The parcels come decorated with rainbows and hearts drawn by school children.

Some letters arrived in packs of 26 identical envelopes — one for each family of the children and staff killed or addressed to the "First Responders" or just "The People of Newtown." One card arrived from Georgia addressed to "The families of 6 amazing women and 20 beloved angels." Many contained checks.

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