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Community Remembers Sandy Hook Tragedy

by on December 12, 2013 2:01 PM

A local woman and Penn State student from Connecticut are planning a vigil to honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy as part of their ongoing efforts to remember those who were killed and the survivors.

The vigil will be at 7 p.m. Saturday on the steps of Old Main at Penn State.

Several months ago a local woman without any connection to Connecticut felt compelled to show the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims they were not forgotten.

Last spring, several months after the tragedy that took 26 lives in Newtown, Conn.; Anne Ready began to feel the public's focus was shifting from the tragedy. Instead, she felt the nation was becoming more divisive about gun laws and rights.

"I knew there were a lot of people who cared and I didn't want (the victims) to think the nation was turning their back on them," Ready said.

It was also just before Mother's Day, and a mother herself, Ready knew parents of the children killed would be hurting more so that day.

"I just felt so much empathy for all of those parents who lost their children. I just couldn't imagine facing that," she says.

Recalling Sandy Hook's school colors, Ready decided to tie a green and white ribbon around a tree in her front yard.

"It would just show my love and support for them in a very visual way. And every time I walked out my door I would think of them," she said.

She shared her thoughts with neighbor, Jeffrey Hayes, a professor at Penn State who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School as a child. He too displayed a ribbon.

From there, the idea grew within the community. A volunteer also made a website to promote the effort. Soon, Ready was distributing green and white ribbon car magnets.

Ready and others went door to door handing out ribbons. She also had locals sign cards of sympathy and support for the Sandy Hook community.

At that point, Ready didn't know how to get the cards to survivors. She reached out to a non-profit in Connecticut that started after the tragedy, Sandy Hook Promise. The group helped her get the cards to the right place.

The group also mentioned that a Penn State student, Aviva Doery, was from Newtown and had actually volunteered for Sandy Hook Promise.

Ready and Doery soon connected. The two came up with the idea for a one-year anniversary vigil.

The vigil will be at 7 p.m. Saturday on the steps of Old Main. During the vigil, there will be 26 empty chairs, one for each victim. PSU students will read the name of each victim. Hayes will also speak.

Teachers with the Penns Valley School District donated 200 candles. Best Western donated 200 cups to hold the candles. There will also be 60 LED lights for parents with small children.

More than 15 churches are involved in the event.

A youth group with Unitarian Universalist Fellowship made ribbons for the vigil. Local High school students made signs to promote the vigil. St. Paul's United Methodist Church donated chairs.

Due to predicted cold temperatures, the vigil is not expected to last more than 30 minutes.

"Our attitude is to be very inclusive. We just want to include the whole community," Ready says.

 

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government. jenn.miller@statecollege.com
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