What would you do? After the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Newtown received tens of thousands of teddy bears. Newtown’s volunteers work full time from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sort, stack, and store thousands of teddy bears and other donated items in a warehouse in Newtown. On Dec. 27, 2012, the News-Times newspaper reports that “At the memorials, items ranged from mounds of stuffed animals, roses, candles and Christmas ornaments, to more personal items, like a bicycle tire from a bicycling club in New Hampshire and a pair of cowboy boots left for 6-year-old Avielle Richman, whose style staple was a pair of pink cowboy boots. Items have arrived from states as far away as Alaska, countries as distant as Kyrgyzstan.”
According to Newtown’s town officials, the date for the memorials of the 26 Sandy Hook School shooting victims to come down is set for some time after Jan.1, 2013.
One long-time Newtown resident, Audrey Petschek, has taken photographs of the memorials twice a day so that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting memorials will never be forgotten.
The grief, the devastation, and the loss of Sandy Hook’s 20 innocent children and six adults on Dec. 14, 2012, will indeed never be forgotten. The grief of one town has become the grief of a whole nation. However, for Newtown, “it is nearing time for the memorials to go,” says Audrey Petschek. “’The town needs to get back to normal as soon as possible,’ she said, citing the stress on the town’s infrastructure, police and businesses, as well as the weather’s wear on the memorials.”
Newtown’s Board of Education member Bill Heart agrees with Audrey Petschek. “The truth is we’re incredibly overwhelmed … the best way to help the town now is to stop sending any more material goods: It simply is running out of space to store it all.”
It appears that there are two physical “spaces” in Newtown that are overwhelmed. Newtown’s warehouse is overfilled with compassion. Sandy Hook Elementary School is overfilled with grief.
Being buried with compassion and being buried with grief, can the two be combined?
What would the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School children and six Sandy Hook Elementary School adults say?
Only the closest family members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims would know, but would honoring their lives be a possible choice?
Could tens of thousands of teddy bears and other donated precious items be turned into the financial means to turn Sandy Hook Elementary School into an everlasting memorial of what Sandy Hook’s children and adults held dear in their lives?
Each one of Sandy Hook’s victims had a love for something during their time on earth; horses, dogs, sports, and so much more. Could Sandy Hook Elementary School be turned into an animal center, a sports center, a sanctuary — a symbol that in the end love overpowers hatred?
Maybe by selling those tens of thousands of teddy bears in the name of Sandy Hook’s innocent victims, Newtown would not have to drown in teddy bears but in a legacy of love.
What would you do?