I’ll never forget the day I drove into Newtown, Connecticut. As NBC 30’s Gerry Brooks tweeted this morning: How could you?
It was probably the first time I had made my way to that town outside of Danbury.
But that wasn’t the reason I remember that day.
It was the empty hearse outside a church.
It was the massive flag on the history Newtown flagpole at half-mast, blowing in the wind on a crisp December day.
It was the countless makeshift memorials and signs reading “Pray for Newtown” that dotted the road.
And it was days after one of the worst events in Connecticut and in the nation’s history.
Today marks five years since that awful, despicable day in Newtown when 26 children and adults were shot and killed in Newtown.
And in the days afterwards, I went to Newtown to deliver dozens upon dozens of gift cards that my wife and I collected in 48 hours after that tragedy from friends, friends of friends, and others.
At the time, I didn’t mention the amount here. It was too soon to the tragedy. I noted in a post just days afterwards that there was a tangible hole you could feel in Connecticut.
It’s still there.
But with time, I recognized that it’s important to acknowledge what we can do when we work together.
In just 48 hours, with nothing more than a few Facebook status updates, back in 2012 my wife and I collected $11,000 worth of gift cards in $25 to $100 increments.
It was so overwhelming that I asked an accounting firm to assist to make sure we tracked each card.
Things were so chaotic that I remember walking in to the administrative offices not quite sure what to do next. I don’t think anyone there knew either. This was just before the massive relief funds were getting started.
I never did hear what happened to those gift cards that were destined to teachers. At the time, it was thought that they could be used for supplies that the teachers might need.
I think back a lot to that time. The people I’ve met since. The work that everyone has done to help that community.
Five years later, and it still feels like yesterday.
And it still feels so painful.