This personal account comes from Liz Eddy. She handles all of our special projects here at Do Something. She's also one of the NICEST people you will ever meet.
As a little girl, Newtown was like Pleasantville. Manicured lawns and neighbors who brought over apple pies – it was something out of a story book. When I saw Newtown in the headlines, I almost immediately assumed it was somewhere else. I have spent most of my life trying to explain where I lived: "next to Danbury, an hour south of Hartford". Now, it will never be unknown.
I was immediately angry. Angry for the loss of 26 innocent people, angry for the loss of childhood. I couldn't help but question humanity and fear for the future. I sat at my desk watching the news evolve and the numbers rise. My quiet, naive memories suddenly took on new meaning. Mostly, it was a feeling of helplessness. With so much media coverage, we are confronted with the pain and sadness at an arm’s length. It made me feel like I couldn't do anything but be an onlooker.
At DoSomething.org, we are doers by nature. Often, this makes it challenging when we face times where we feel there is little we can do to help. However, we did find ways to make the greater community feel they could lend their support. When a candlelight vigil was brought up by a co-worker, the team sprang into action to make it happen in a few short hours. By 6:30 pm Friday much of our team stood in Times Square with candles and signs.
There is something strangely powerful about holding a vigil amongst all the noise and lights. A choir joined us bringing many more people together. It was amazing how music made so many more people feel they had something to contribute. A woman joined us with tears in her eyes, her niece and nephew had just escaped the shooting that morning. The pain was real and shared amongst the group throughout the evening.
Meanwhile, another miraculous gesture of compassion was happening across the country. With a simple ask of texting "hope" to 38383, over 50,000 people nationwide sent in their prayers and words of support. We were able to deliver some of the messages on a banner to Newtown Monday. Driving to my childhood home, in the midst of tragedy, was surreal and heartbreaking. Despite the noise of the media, there was a broken community still holding strong through its support for one another. The banner was hung next to the memorial site on Glen Road. Almost immediately, dozens of people came to read the banner. With tears in their eyes they seemed in awe that so many people were reaching out to them. We, all 50,000+ of us, proved that the power of love and how it can ignite peace even in the most chaotic and troubling times.
I will be in Newtown on Sunday and will visit the memorial again. Please remember the families, friends and classmates through the holidays and know our love and support will still be needed in the months and years to come.
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