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“We Are Newtown” Project Helps Community Heal

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV
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Jim Armstrong is an Emmy-award winning reporter who joined WBZ-TV in...
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NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBS) – In the midst of unspeakable tragedy, it’s easy to feel lost. But there are plenty of Newtown students that won’t let that happen. Dozens of them were hard at work in a local storefront this week after having taken on a huge task.

They are organizing and packing 8,000 t-shirts that were designed by a Newtown company, and putting a little note with each one.

After a terrible week, the t-shirts will be a small present for every Newtown student.

The t-shirts say “We Are Newtown” and feature messages of hope and encouragement. “They will be handed out so that every child who walks out of a Newtown school [Friday] will have one of these shirts on them,” explains Mark Macchiarulo, a Newtown business owner who is helping with the project.

The kids say staying busy with this project almost feels like group therapy; they are helping others and simultaneously helping themselves.

“It’s kind of overwhelming to feel like you’re powerless in something like this,” says Newtown High School senior Monica Macchiarulo, one of the volunteers. But working on the t-shirt project is helping.

“It’s something to bring us all together,” she says. “I know at the high school things have been very tense and very hard for certain students to kind of cope with everything. And I think that by doing this it kind of unites us all as one and gives us something to do as a community.”

The t-shirt giveaway is just one element of the larger “We Are Newtown” movement.

On its surface it’s doesn’t seem like much more than just a Facebook page. But it’s one with the power to coordinate the donations and efforts from around the world.

The “We Are Newtown” Facebook page is the brainchild of a 25-year-old Newtown resident Kyle Lyddy, who says this tragedy has changed his life forever.

The page coordinates the donations, volunteer efforts, and messages of support from around the world.

“This is something that has completely, completely broken my heart,” Lyddy says. “One thing I thought was important to do was to create one location for all these events, all of these vigils and fundraising efforts. Literally we’ve received hundreds of messages asking how can they help what can they do for this community and it’s been difficult to give them answers.”

But with one centralized place to share messages, the job gets easier.

As for those t-shirts, once every student gets one they will go on sale to the public. The proceeds will help fund a newly-established college scholarship for a Newtown High School senior who wants to become a teacher.

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