26 Sandy Hook victims honored by 26 acts of kindness

26 Sandy Hook victims honored by 26 acts of kindness


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NEWTOWN, Conn. — The 26 victims killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School are being honored by people around the country who will perform 26 acts of kindness in their names.

There were 26 people, including 20 children, killed Friday at a Connecticut elementary school in what was one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. The shooter, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, shot and killed his mother before forcing his way into the school and turning his gun on students and teachers there, and eventually himself.

In the days since the massacre, the attention has largely turned from the attacker, whose life has proved to be difficult to gain a clear understanding of, to the victims and their families. The father of Emilie Parker, a former Ogden resident, shared his grief at a press conference Saturday and said his daughter was always one to bring happiness to others.

"I can't count the number of times Emilie noticed someone feeling sad or frustrated and would rush to find a piece of paper to draw them a picture or to write them an encouraging note," Robbie Parker said at the time.

Heartbroken families began laying their children to rest on Monday, as funerals were held for Jack Pinto and Noah Pozner, both 6 years old.

As mourners gathered inside funeral homes, well-wishers grouped outside, placing stuffed animals and flowers at the site of an impromptu memorial, one of many that have sprung up in the days since the tragic event.

Elsewhere in the nation, strangers to the families, but not to their heartache, found their own way to memorialize the slain. Warren Tidwell, 34, created the "26 Acts of Kindness" Facebook page to honor the victims.

"I sat there watching the coverage and I was crushed, and hopeless, and helpless," the Alabama man said. "I have a 4-year-old son who will be going to kindergarten next year, and it just felt like the right thing to do."

Tidwell is working on the page with Tony Perkins, son of former University of Alabama football coach Ray Perkins. He is encouraging other to perform 26 acts of kindness, as well, "and, if you choose to, a special 27th for the mother who lost her life as well as a son."

26 Sandy Hook victims honored by 26 acts of kindness

One mother helped her son fill balloons with the names of the victims "and released them to heaven." A man made donations to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. A woman is sending 26 Christmas cards in the victims' honor.

The list goes on, but it started with the story of the page's creator, who gave a box of chocolates to a woman in a grocery store. A note was attached: "To honor the 26 taken from us at Sandy Hook, we are doing 26 acts of kindness. You are #1."

The next act was a $10 gift card to a local deli, given to a young couple in line, and with the same note. A teddy bear was given by Tidwell's son to local firemen as a Toys for Tots donation, and the family is baking cookies to take to the firemen, as well. All expressed their gratitude at the acts of kindness.

Tidwell hopes the page can be used for healing, and said he has already received multiple emails from people telling him how much their participation has helped them.

"It's such a universal pain we're all feeling. It's such a universal thing to want to do something but not feel like you can do anything," he said. "Hopefully, through this, people can find some catharsis. To feel like the good that was taken that day — we're going to put it back in the world."

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Stephanie Grimes

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