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Michelle Johnson holds up some of the Hammond Community Library's contributions to making Sandy Hook Elementary students' new school building a "Winter Wonderland" to welcome children back after the new year. The library will be collecting snowflakes through Jan. 7.

Library collects snowflakes for Sandy Hook

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There is a basket full of blue and white paper snowflakes sitting on the counter at the Hammond Community Library and it's not just for decoration--at least not in Hammond. The snowflakes will be joining thousands of others from around the country in decorating the halls of the new building Sandy Hook Elementary students will attend when they return to school after the holidays.

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Two days after the Dec. 14 shooting, Connecticut Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) officers and members of their board met with Newtown community leaders and Parent-Teacher Association representatives to find ways to support those affected by the massacre.

National PTA President Betsy Landers said there were several ideas, but the primary initiative that came out of the meeting was the collection of snowflakes for Sandy Hook.

"The snowflake campaign was born to encourage individuals and families to send in snowflakes so that we could create an environment that was welcoming and also ... let students and families know how deeply people across the nation care," Landers said.

She said a secondary objective of the Snowflakes for Sandy Hook campaign was to help individuals and families across the country deal with the tragedy.

"We're many different people and many different states and many different cities across a huge country," Landers said, "but when something like this affects a community, we're one family."

She said the response to the snowflake campaign has been overwhelming, with thousands of snowflakes coming in from across the country, a number that will soon include the snowflakes sent from the Hammond Library.

"If we can help them in a time of tragedy," said Michelle Johnson, library director, "I think we've done our part as a community then. Communities reach out to each other. It doesn't matter if you're states away."

Johnson said children have been cutting out paper snowflakes during library story-times and including their names on the snowflakes. The basket is already full and Johnson said the library will be collecting snowflakes through Jan. 7.

Johnson said she first heard of the snowflake collection through a Facebook post by Angie Blodgett, Village of Hammond deputy clerk.

"I thought, 'What a great way to really bring the kids back to school and welcome them back,'" Johnson said.

Blodgett said she is glad her Facebook post inspired Johnson to start collecting snowflakes at the library.

"It was just kind of a neat thing. For such a tragic event, for these kids maybe to make it easier for them to come back to school," Blodgett said.

Johnson said anyone who wants to make a snowflake can stop by the library and make one and put it in the basket, or make a snowflake at home and bring it into the library.

Landers said snowflakes don't have to be cut out of paper; in fact, she said the PTA is encouraging people to be as creative as they want. Some, she added, have been embroidering snowflakes for Sandy Hook.

"It really caught the imagination of so many people," Landers said. "It seems like a simple thing and yet it's so meaningful."

Snowflakes can be dropped off at the Hammond Library or sent directly to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514. The Connecticut PTSA asks that questions be sent to sandyhook@ctpta.org. Landers said anyone wanting to contribute in other ways can visit www.pta.org.

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Gretta Stark
Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.
(715) 426-1048
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