View: Sandy Hook donation drive flyer
REDLANDS - A Redlands resident, who is an alumna of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., is partnering with other former students to raise money for those affected by the Dec. 14 shooting.
Marjorie Lewis is working to get the word out about a donation drive spearheaded by members of the school's alumni organization, the Newtown Alumni Fund (NAF), to help with long-term relief for the victim's families.
Every penny donated will go to the fund, she said.
Lewis was among the first students at Sandy Hook, as a kindergartner in the 1956, the year it was built.
She walked the same hallways and sat in the same classrooms as the 26 victims who were shot and killed.
In fact she learned to drive a car in the Sandy Hooks Elementary parking lot.
"When I grew up there, pretty much every child in kindergarten and first grade graduated together," she said.
Lewis learned of the shooting while listening to the radio.
"At first they said only one person was shot... and then more. It was so shocking, and no one could quite believe it," she said. "(The news) was devastating to hear - not only to me, but to the rest of the world."
After the shooting, members of the alumni association began making plans to create the fund, sending correspondence to one another through email, social media sites and conference calls.
As news spread, more alumni came on board to help, Lewis said.
"Everyone wants to help. You want to do something, whatever you can do to help," she said.
Lewis was born in Newtown in 1951. She attended Sandy Hook and later graduated from Newtown High School in 1969.
She took her son to show him Newton last year.
"It's just a wonderful town. You can't imagine how beautiful it is.
"See that flagpole?" she said as she pointed to a photo in her high school yearbook. "It's in the middle of the street. Cars have to drive around it. We're known for that flagpole."
She also pointed out Town Hall, and right down the street is the grocer, opened in 1958 and still owned by the same family.
"The town hall has the movie theater. I graduated on that stage, and that's where I was adopted. They rang the bell there this morning. It rang 26 times.
"It's all sad. I don't have another word for it," she said.
Lewis knows people who live in the small community, and keeps in communication with many on a Facebook page dedicated to the city.
She said the town may never fully recover.
"The people are going to be hurting for years and years," she said. "(This fundraiser) is for the long haul."
Lewis said she has been having a hard time since the shooting, struggling to focus on work and day-to-day functioning.
"I find myself really forgetting a lot of things," she said. She has been leaving her purse behind or going to the wrong street.
"I think of all those people there, trying to go through their daily lives."
She said she feels guilty being so distraught, when the people in Newtown are the ones going through it. Then again, she would feel guilty being happy.
Donations will be administered and distributed through the Newtown Rotary Club.
All donations are tax-deductible, said Lewis.
Donations can be made online newtownalumnifund.org or by mail at Newtown Alumni Fund, P.O. Box 3217, Newtown, CT 06470.
If sending a check, specify "Newtown Alumni Fund" in the memo section.
Twenty-six people died at the school with gunman Adam Lanza, 20, stormed onto the campus and opened fire. Twenty of the victims were children.
Lanza died of a self-inflicted gun wound at the scene.
His mother, Nancy, was found shot to death at the home they shared.
Toni Momberger contributed to this story.
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