VENICE, FL - Shortly after the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting a year ago, students at Venice high school wanted to show their support. They just recently found out how important their efforts were.
The tragic event may have happened 1,300 plus miles away but the impact was felt by those like Venice High School student Kylie Huber. "Just crying with my family. So upset. Just wondering about if that happened to us and happened to my little brother."
As part of an outreach project she and other classmates like Dylan Kona started making a paper doll chain. It just kept growing. "The amount of participation we got far exceeded our expectations. We thought we might get a hundred or so of these dolls. We got two football field lengths."
It was sent off nearly a year ago. They never knew if it even got there. That was until a few weeks ago when the parents of a survivor of the shooting showed up in principal Jack Turgeon's office late one afternoon with a story of fate. "My daughter was a 4th grade student and my husbands father happens to live in Venice. When we opened up that box it was very emotional for us because of our connection to the community of Venice. To think you guys were thinking of us during this difficult time."
Out of 249 volunteers who sifted through the condolences from around the country the one who opened their box had a connection to Venice. The letter reads in part "Dear Venice High School. Thank you for the beautiful and heartwarming people chain. It meant so much to receive such a huge hug from your school district."
Their small gesture of support getting through. "It just felt like lightening went through my body," says Kona.
"It was just heartwarming to see somebody cared about what we had done and that they got to get that from us," says Huber.
As far as those paper dolls go, well apparently there is a plan for them at the soon to be rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School. "They went as far as saying they are going to put a border up in the new elementary school of the paper dolls as you are coming in," says Turgeon.
A lesson they say of coming together to help overcome sorrow. United we stand. "No matter how small the gesture is it can still impact someone's life. If it is yours or the person you are trying to impact," says Kona.
Thankful for the support here and from around the country. Residents of Newtown Connecticut are not holding a memorial on the one year anniversary. Instead putting candles in windows to symbolize the idea of service and commitment to each other.