Newtown Community Embraces Kindness

The donations businesses and organizations have received will last into the next several months.

While folks in Newtown wait for life to return to some fraction of the normal they knew before Friday, an "overwhelming" outpouring of generosity, from people near and far, is helping some cope.

"It goes from sorrow to, 'What can I do to help?'" said JoJo Dorazio, one of the owners at Dorazio Sisters Baked Goods on South Main Street. "That's the next thing out of everybody's mouth."

Dorazio has been on both sides of the question—answering and asking.

In just five days, she and other staff members at the shop have received calls from people in the Carolinas, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. In total, they've donated thousands toward comfort food, which means she will be baking and coordinating dropoffs for at least the next two months.

In order to ensure the donations continue—and to keep track of them—she's set up a platform on the store's website

For Dorazio, the giving doesn't stop at work. At home, she's busy talking about the tragedy with her teenage daughter, who attends school in Monroe. Earlier in the week the teen was forwarding a message on social media about a teddy bear collection for Sandy Hook students.

"She said 'A stuffed animal is not going to change what happened.' I had to explain to her," Dorazio recalled. "I said, 'Do you remember when you were 6 and 7 years old? You had names for all your stuffed animals. They were like your best friends. They brought you comfort and you used to hug them.'"

"'That's the reason we're giving teddy bears to these children.' It's never going to take away what happened, but we're just trying to give them some comfort."

When asked if she or her daughter have been on alert since Friday, Dorazio shook her head.

"You can't live like that. Of course you're concerned and nervous anytime your child leaves the front door," she said. "But you keep going everyday. You do what you're responsible for doing and you trust that it's an isolated incident. You trust it's not going to happen again."

Frank Rinaldi, the owner of Good Ideas, a parent-teacher store in Newtown, shared similar feelings. Both of his teenage daughers knew Dawn Hochspring, the slain Sandy Hook principal, from her previous position at a Bethlehem school. 

Neither of them have experienced much anxiety since the shooting, Rinaldi said, but they realize one thing: "Newtown will never be the same."

"Life will go on, but it's going to be in the back of our heads," he said. "There's going to be sadness. You're going to look at life differently ... I don't think the shock will ever go away."

Others in the community, like Rose Pavia, feel the same. A grandmother of three, she's wondering how to celebrate Christmas this year. 

When the funerals have come to an end, and the television crews are gone, the pain may start to ease a bit, Rinaldi told Patch.

In the meantime, he's tried to keep things as normal as possible at his store. He was unsure whether to stay open Friday, and the rest of the weekend, but local parents and teachers encouraged him to do so. 

And it's a good thing he did. Just like Dorazio, Rinaldi has received several donations from folks who want to show support for Sandy Hook. About two dozen phone calls, which have come from as far as California, Missouri and Oregon, will translate to appoximately $2,000 worth of educational supplies. He will accept contributions until the end of the month, and then deliver them when the kids are back in school.

A similar influx of offers has hit The Cyrenius H. Booth Library. On Wednesday, hundreds of copies of The Healing Book, by Ellen Sabin, arrived. The insurance company Aetna donated them. 

Books can "help people get through their toughest times," children's librarian Alana Bennison said. While the library has not yet seen a large number of parents seeking titles that deal with grief, Bennison believes that will happen in time. 

"These parents," she said, pausing to shake her head, "they're just trying to get through the burials of their children. The need for support is going to go on months, years. These things are going to be here when they're ready. The support is not going to evaporate."

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