For Walpole parent Lisa Fair, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Conn. hit close to home as she grew up in nearby Seymour Conn. and is friends with parents of young children who attend school in Newtown.
So, when she heard people around the world were sending support in the form of paper snowflakes to Sandy Hook Elementary she approached Boyden Elementary School art teacher Marcia Marinelli about having her students create snowflakes themselves.
“I called the art teacher because I had seen earlier in the year her fifth grade class came out of school one day with these giant 3-D snowflakes," said Fair. "They were probably two or three feet tall and I thought if we could get the whole fifth grade class to each make one more that would be close to 100 snowflakes and I could drive them down to Connecticut."
The fourth grade teachers at Boyden wanted their students to join in, as well, and on the first day back from winter break the kids had made about 170 paper snowflakes, which Fair planned on bringing to Sandy Hook.
By the time the snowflakes were done, however, the Sandy Hook PTA had received thousands of contributions and asked people to display them in their own towns as a sign of support.
“What happened was the town of Newtown got so many snowflakes from all over the world, they asked people rather than bringing them down to Sandy Hook to continue the project in your own town as a sign of solidarity for the community and remembering the children and the teachers that were lost,” she said.
Fair then approached the Walpole Library about hanging them in the children's room. She got a step stool and hung over 90 of the snowflakes herself.
For the remaining ones, her ties to the Newtown area gave her another idea.
“I still had about 60 left over and I grew up one town over from Sandy Hook. So my mom and my whole family still live back in Conn. and my parents own a restaurant there," she said. "So I asked her if she would be willing to sell them for a donation in her restaurant and whatever money it would bring we could donate to the Sandy Hook PTA.”
The restaurant, Jimmy's Place in Seymour - about 15 miles east of Newtown - now looks like a winter wonderland and they are taking whatever people would like to donate for each snowflake.
The money, Fair said, would go directly to the Sandy Hook Elementary PTA where it could be used in a number of ways.
“The kids in Newtown are not going to attend that school any longer. They’re going to another school in Monroe, Conn., which is one town over. The town has a school that was unused for the last year - they were thinking of turning it into a senior center. The town has decided to donate the space to these kids who went to Sandy Hook because they don’t want those kids going back there,” she said.
“One of the ideas is that they’re going to demolish the school and put up a memorial. So the PTA is going to use whatever money is donated at their discretion, whether they use it to build a new playground at the new school that they’re going to be attending, or help fund the memorial, that’s what the money is going to be going to," said Fair.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, Fair's mother said she had sold 10 snowflakes and raised $90.
“We can’t just think about it for the week that it happened and feel bad. I know life goes on but these families lives will never be the same and I think myself growing up so close to the town, it really hit home for me. I do have friends in Newtown who have kindergarten children and luckily everyone was fine but there were families that weren’t so lucky, so I think this is just a way to keep their spirit alive,” she said.
“The kids really had a good time making these snowflakes, but in a reverent kind of way. They knew that it was important what they were doing, sort of reaching beyond the walls of their own school trying to bring a little light and sunshine to someone else,” said Fair.