Good Deeds, Dollars And Kindness Pour Into Newtown

A sign is hung out a building window at Church Hill Road and Washington Avenue in Sandy Hook Thursday morning. (BRAD HORRIGAN)

A few places, Dynia says, are becoming central clearing houses for information, donations and relief, especially the website, That website urges potential volunteers not to just show up in Newtown unless they are contacted.

Jim Siemianowski, of the state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, says that so many people have volunteered mental-health services for the survivors and families that he now encourages them to volunteer through

"It's becoming somewhat overwhelming, the management of all the donations," Siemianowski said. "It's kind of a balancing act between these very well-intentioned folks and where you can plug them in, and will it be of assistance."

Kyle Lyddy, a 25-year-old lifelong resident of Newtown, set up a "We Are Newtown" page on Facebook. The busy and fact-filled page, which now has more than 17,000 "likes," has become a stopping place for people looking to send a message or other offerings.

"It's been completely overwhelming, a surreal experience, this outpouring of support from all around the world," said Lyddy, who was a team manager for the UConn men's basketball team, and wrote a book about it, "From My Seat."

Lyddy said he set up the page to cast a positive light on his hometown, and to streamline information about donating. "Hundreds of different organizations have been created in the last few days in town," he said. "When people are looking for things to do and how to help, I want them to find the most appropriate [recipients]."

Lyddy said that a man from Rhode Island contacted him to send 2,500 teddy bears to a vigil in town last weekend. "I hooked him up with the Newtown Hook and Ladder Fire Department," he said.

Many items from Lyddy's Facebook page tell stories: "Starbucks in Newtown had a donor from Philadelphia today to pay for the morning orders. Soccer coaches from New Jersey came to help organize games for kids. One person purchased 26 Christmas trees to honor the victims and for the town to decorate. A local group came and sang carols under the Sandy Hook Christmas tree."

Other stories Lyddy tells are more dramatic. "One woman stopped everything she was doing on Saturday and went to the airport. She told the airlines what she was doing. They charged her $10 for the flight to come to Newtown," he says. "Not knowing anybody, she went to a local facility to help."

That local facility was Newtown Youth Academy, a private sports and fitness center. Bess Donofrio of the Academy said that organization is "a comfort hub, at this point."

"Lots of clients and members have been gracious enough to step aside to give up their rental times on the turf and in the field house to accommodate people in the town and students," Donofrio said. "There has been a huge response."

Donated food items have been given to the families of Sandy Hook students and to fire stations, and the flowers to schools, cemeteries and senior living facilities.

Samuelson said he has no suggestions about what people should send. "I would never tell someone how to grieve. Everybody grieves in their own way," he said. The address to send items is Messages of Condolence for Newtown, P.O. Box 3700, Newtown, CT 06470.

Samuelson pointed out, however, a link on to donate to the Park Gift Fund.

Lyddy said that We Are Newtown has produced T-shirts. Every Sandy Hook child will receive one on the first day of school. Others are being sold to raise money.

Elsewhere On Facebook

More stories about acts of kindness are being posted each day on websites and on Facebook.

Dawn Grande Briggs, of Newtown, posted on the JetBlue Airways Facebook page.

"When I boarded my JetBlue flight, I knew that the shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary and not our school, but I also thought that one teacher was injured in the foot. ... After takeoff, it occurred to me to listen to CNN on Sirius before we had access to TV coverage and this is when I learned that there were more than 20 deaths, mostly children. You can just imagine my response. Moments later a wonderful woman by the name of Judy from NJ was sitting with me and offering her rosary beads which I happily accepted and wrapped them around my mother's prayer card (and she refused to have me return them at the end of the flight. ... I will cherish them forever). Next, a JetBlue flight attendant arrived with tissue, the offer to do anything to help, and then to say that the Captain/Pilot wanted to know if I had a ride home as he would like to drive me home since he lives in a neighboring town in CT. He didn't think I should drive myself home. The ultimate act of kindness happened when, toward the end of the flight, I was asked to move to the front row of the plane and was met by 3 JetBlue executives and 3 customs agents, all with tears in their eyes, who escorted me past a line that would have taken hours to get through, so that I could get to my children and home in Newtown."