WHEELING - Nine days later, the images are still fresh: children being led away from Newtown, Conn.'s Sandy Hook Elementary School swathed in their parent's oversized coats.
And it wasn't just adults who learned of the tragedy as it unfolded that day - children caught glimpses, too. Perhaps to help themselves cope with the Dec. 14 murder of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, a local family has donated 26 new coats to Catholic Charities 18th Street Neighborhood Center in East Wheeling.
Assistant Director Pam Campbell said the woman and her two young daughters dropped off the coats one day at closing time, with the center's maintenance man, Kevin Simeth, receiving them. She believes they wish to remain anonymous.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Pam Campbell, Catholic Charities 18th Street Neighborhood Center assistant director, poses with some of the 26 new coats donated by a woman and her two girls in memory of the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims.
"It means a lot. They brought adult's and children's coats," Campbell said. "When you're poor it's hard - you usually get hand-me-downs or coats from a thrift shop."
Having a new coat to wear to school makes a child feel good, she added.
"It brought tears to our eyes knowing the children were so concerned. My understanding is that they used their savings to buy these coats. They wanted to do it in memory" of the Newtown victims, Campbell said.
Simeth noted the girls appeared to be elementary school aged or younger.
"They cleaned out their piggy bank. ... It was touching," he said of the donation.
Much like the girls' idea to donate 26 coats, some people using social media on the Internet are encouraging others to perform ''26 Acts of Kindness'' to help the nation heal.
While shopping Saturday in Wheeling's Centre Market, Glen Dale resident Judy McDonough said years ago two of her cousins were murdered via gunfire in Alabama. But she cannot imagine the amount of pain the Newtown parents are feeling after losing their children, she noted. And while the tragedy has spurred many to reach out, McDonough said she tries to commit acts of kindness on a daily basis.
"I'm a nurse - I try to do good every day. Even people on the street I try to help," she said.
McDonough hopes the Newtown families soon get the privacy and peace they need to grieve and move on. And the nation can now leave them alone and instead commit acts of kindness in their own neighborhoods.
St. Clairsville resident David Coffman agrees with the sentiment of committing acts of kindness, but his major concern is how children are being raised. He believes they have an "attitude of entitlement" that is not healthy for their character development.
"No one has a sense of personal responsibility anymore. Their pride in self and of community has eroded," Coffman said.
He also believes a ban on certain types of guns ultimately won't keep people from hurting each other.
"If you want to find a weapon, you'll find a weapon," he said.