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DEAR READER: Newtown overwhelmed by outpouring of support

Friday, December 28, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 3:39 p.m. CST, Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dear Reader,

Last week, I told you about the efforts of The Newtown Bee to help its community organize the flow of donations to survivors of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and to help people avoid scams. (You can see my letter here.)

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Here’s an update, sent Wednesday, from associate editor John Voket in a letter to newspapers around the country. I’ll run it here in full.

Have a fun and safe New Year’s holiday,

Tom

Dear members of the newspaper community and to all our colleagues,

As I submit this update 12 days after Newtown suffered its most devastating tragedy, our community is still in a deep state of shock and grieving for those lost and the many others who will bear the burden of what they witnessed at the Sandy Hook School on December 14. But thanks to the increasing sensitivity of media outlets covering the story, our families, our own local and regional clergy and the world community that has wrapped Newtown in its collective arms — signs of healing are beginning to be present.

On behalf of our Newtown Bee staff, I cannot thank you enough for listening to our request to respect the privacy of survivors, responders, school staff and others who may have been involved in the shooting or its aftermath. I have to believe that when and if these individuals are ready, they will reach out or open their doors to individual media attention.

In the meantime, my fellow staffers remain so very touched by the thoughts and wishes coming to us directly from colleagues across North America and around the globe. The Newtown Bee and our community continue to be awestruck by the outpouring of physical donations, and of monetary gifts to the primary benefit funds established following the event.

I am updating you today at the request of a group of Newtown officials including First Selectman Pat Llodra, Police Chief Michael Kehoe and School Superintendent Janet Robinson. Within a few days of the shooting, the deluge of goods — teddy bears, food, clothes, school supplies, blankets, toys, letters, cards, candles and artwork — quickly overwhelmed the community's ability to receive, process, store and distribute what was arriving.

As of today, community leaders are pleading for the world media communicate to readers, listeners and viewers to temporarily halt any further dispatching of goods to the community, its schools, churches and nonprofit organizations. They are asking that any items already collected be distributed within the areas or communities of origin with Newtown's deepest gratitude, and in memory of those we lost on December 14.

Once the community has sorted and processed the warehouses full of items already received, officials will reach out again clarifying the best ways to provide assistance and support. Please know that the immediate needs of the survivors, victims, school staff and responders are being met.

If any newspapers or partners in the media are inclined, they are invited to direct readers, viewers and listeners to nsbonline.com for information on donating to a primary relief fund established shortly after the incident. Officials are assuring donors that proceeds from this fund will be used to help the Newtown/Sandy Hook community in their efforts to deal with this tragedy, and that a panel of community members is being organized to attend to its eventual distributions.

The funds co-organizer, United Way of Western Connecticut, is only applying external processing fees to donations received for this Sandy Hook School Support Fund by Internet, phone, or texting NEWTOWN to 80888. There will be no United Way or bank management fees attached to any donations to this Fund.

The Newtown Bee will continue to list the growing number of other efforts and funds that have, or will be established in the days ahead. And we invite you to look to our website and publication as a resource for the most immediate and accurate information about these efforts.

Sincerely,

John Voket

Associate Editor

The Newtown Bee ... since 1877


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