How You Can Remember Sandy Hook If You Can't Give Money
Dec. 14 marked the fourth anniversary of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. As is often the case with such somber anniversaries, friends, loved ones, and community members may be looking for ways to show the victims and their families that they are not forgotten. But what kind of support is still needed, four years after gunman Adam Lanza strode into Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 26 people, 20 of whom were children? It might not be what you think. Before you reach for your wallet, check out the ways Connecticut lawmakers and residents are asking their fellow Americans to remember the lives lost at Sandy Hook on Dec. 14, 2012.
According to the Hartford Courant, much of the funds raised in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy are still available to those in need. That means that while financial donations are always appreciated, raising awareness, paying tribute to the lives lost, and redoubling your own efforts to end gun violence are equally important. That being said, there are a few organizations that could always use an extra helping hand. Here's a look at what you can do to remember those who died during the tragic event, as well as those still affected by it.
The Newtown Action Alliance's Acts Of Kindness
The Newtown Action Alliance is a nonprofit providing "comfort, education, scholarship and other support and resources to people and communities impacted by or living in the aftermath of gun violence in American society," according to its website. Beginning in 2013, it launched an annual Acts of Kindness Week, intended to honor the victims of Sandy Hook. Participation is simple, and can be done through large or small acts of kindness across the country, according to the Hartford Courant.
At this year's Acts of Kindness Week kickoff, held Dec. 12 at the downtown Newtown YWCA day care center, Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, along with Rep. Elizabeth Esty, called on everyone to make the effort to be a little kinder to those they encounter this week.
"Every one of us is responsible — none of us gets a pass," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who was accompanied by Sen. Chris Murphy and Rep. Elizabeth Esty, according to the Courant. "It can range from buying a cup of coffee for someone else to making a charitable donation," Blumenthal added. "It can simply be giving somebody a ride to school or a place of worship. That's the way we can honor the memory of those 26 beautiful children and educators who perished that day."
The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation
The Newtown-Sandy Hook Community Foundation (NSHCF) is undoubtedly the largest, best-known support organization to arise in the shooting's wake. The Courant reported that NSHCF, sometimes referred to as the United Way fund, is still fielding requests for support from family members, victims, and others impacted by gun violence in the small northeastern town.
"We had someone who was really debilitated just come forward now who needs lots of assistance," Jennifer Barahona, executive director of NSHCF told the Courant. "There is no uniformity to grieving and people are all over the map when it comes to the help they need."
The Sandy Hook School Foundation
The Sandy Hook School Foundation emerged from the elementary school's PTA fund, and still has the bulk of the $1 million donated available, the Courant reports. The organization handling the fund recently pledged $500,000 to ensure that counselors and psychologists trained by the Clifford Beers Clinic "remain in all Newtown schools for two more years," the paper reported.
The Sandy Hook Promise
The Sandy Hook Promise is an advocacy organization dedicated to protecting children from gun violence, founded by several family members who lost loved ones in the massacre. Supporters can sign the Sandy Hook Promise, make donations to help lobby for safer gun laws, and find resources to help advocate for change across communities and in Washington. The group gained some viral notoriety earlier this month when it released a powerful video highlighting the often-ignored warning signs of an imminent attack.
According to the Courant, in the weeks after the shooting at Sandy Hook, 77 different anti-gun-violence charities registered with the Secretary of State. By the end of 2014, those charities had raised more than $28 million, in addition to the estimated $17 million given to the town and its agencies by the federal government. And while no amount of money will bring back those lives lost, or heal the wounds of the loved ones left behind, it's good to know that when shown the darkest parts of its character, America opens its heart, its wallet, and its mind to take care of its own.