How to help victims of Newtown massacre

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Newtown shooting

Zulma Capestany, of New Britain, cries at the sight of an arrangement of teddy bears at a makeshift memorial at Sandy Hook Elementary School. (Cloe Poisson, Hartford Courant / December 15, 2012 )

(CNN) — The chilling sound of multiple gunshots shattered the relative quiet of the school day at Sandy Hook Elementary School at around 9:30 Friday morning — children screaming, then silence, as teachers did their best to protect their students and keep them quiet, hoping desperately the shooter would not find them.

This is a morning no one in this small town in Connecticut will ever forget; the morning a gunman forced his way into the school and killed 26 people — six adults and 20 children, all under the age of 10; the last morning some Newtown, Connecticut, parents would see their kids alive.

As the community reels, organizations are setting up ways to help through donations and support.

An official fund for victims’ families, and the community as a whole, has now been established: The Sandy Hook School Support Fund, set up by the United Way of Western Connecticut will provide support services to families and the community. All donations to this fund will go directly to those affected.

The Red Cross has also been on the ground, offering food and water to first responders, and providing more than 50 units of blood to Danbury hospital where some of the victims were transported. They have set up a center for emergency grief counseling.

In addition, the nonprofit mental health clinic Newtown Youth and Family Services will be open all weekend from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for grief counseling. They say all donations made at this time will go to helping those impacted.

The Newtown Parent Connection has also pledged to try and bring in extra counselors to help parents cope.

Some private funds have also been set up in the wake of the tragedy to help victims. The Newtown Memorial fund is taking donations for the families and community affected, and is also actively recruiting volunteers and offers of help of all kinds. A fund has also been set up to help the family of 6 year old Emilie Parker, who was killed at Sandy Hook. For ways to help her family you can visit the fund’s Facebook page.

The band One Republic has also started a fund to raise money for those affected. You can find details on how to donate to One Republic’s fund here.

For families from the Newtown area, and even beyond, a pressing problem will be how to help children cope with the aftermath of this tragedy — and indeed how to give parents space to grieve, knowing their children are being looked after. To that end, Save The Children has opened a “child-friendly space” in Newtown to give kids a place to play and express themselves while parents seek support or counseling. The space is located in Newtown’s Reed Intermediate School, where students of Sandy Hook elementary go after graduating.

In addition, Save The Children has released 10 tips for parents wondering how to help their children deal with their feelings about such a traumatic event, such as spending extra time with your kids, and limiting TV time.

A number of other organizations, such as the National Association of School Psychologists, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have released recommendations for parents and teachers as to how to support children if they want to talk about what happened.

You can send words of support and messages for families affected in an evergram here. They will be collated and given to the families in the future.

The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection says anyone wishing to volunteer should call 211 or (800) 203-1234.

5 comments

  • Peter Uliano

    I Cried last night thinking of you,
    Thinking of the victims of this horrible unspeakable evil act.
    I shed a tear for the Families , Friends and Teachers.
    I cried listening to a Father named Peter speak about his Angelic Daughter.
    I cried with Vicci Soto's Family while watching the Vigil on the News.
    I cried While Sitting on the couch with my Pregnant Wife and my 23 Month old Daughter.

    I prayed on Friday although I could not even find the words.
    I prayed for all the Children of the world.
    I prayed for Everyone who had a connection with Sandy Hook.
    I prayed For the World and this Country.
    I pray we can stop these things from happening.
    I pray for the Mentally ill and for those Families living with those who are Mentally ill.
    I pray for the Parents of these Poor , Innocent Children.
    I pray for the Teachers who Protected these Children with their lives , They are Saints and Angels.
    I pray for the First Responders who were so sympathetic which is not in their job description.
    You are all Forever in my Prayers.

    I cried learning of this Tragedy and I shed a Tear for all of you right now.

    My Love and Sympathy is all I can give and You all have both of them.

    God Bless these People and take care of the Children.

    I Love you all !

    Love ,

    Peter G. Uliano
    Pelham , NY.

  • Michele Hayes

    It’s been two days later and I’m still in shock. I can’t believe it happened, it’s crazy.I don’t know what to say, how do you comfort someone or have the words to speak. You never know how your day is going to end til you go thru it. My heart goes out to everybody affected by this Tragedy.

  • tricia

    I'm a mother i'm still trying to get over this horrible news, we have to work together to get guns off the streets, there should be harsh laws when caught with guns ….the government should post a bill to get a new law in when caught with a gun, anyone, absolutely anyone get caught with a gun and they are not law enforcement should automatically receive a penalty staring with the maximum of TEN YEARS, no bail no seeing of a judge straight to a prison cell to serve TEN YEARS, and this way less people will walk with guns and there will be less gun shooting like this one. I pray for the families in sad time.. (tears)

  • Pat

    My heart is breaking…there are no words to express the sadness…please know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many many people….your angels will make the stars shine brighter.

  • kim

    I,m a mother of three i pray over my kids before they going to school, I am express the sadness about the news in Newtown ct. My heart is going out to the family and friends.We are pray for the family.May god bless you and the newtown conn. kim,

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