Half Mast

Driving into Newtown yesterday, I was struck by one overpowering thing: Reminders of the tragedy were everywhere.  It was unrelenting.

  • Makeshift signs, near the I-84 exit, and on the roadside, say things like “Pray for Newtown”.
  • The Newtown flagpole, which dates back to 1876, is one of the icons in town.  An imposing figure that arises in the middle of an intersection in the town center, it stands at half-mast, it’s huge flag waving gently with the breeze.
  • Driving past a church stands an empty hearse, waiting for yet another burial.
  • News media are camped out with their signature satellite trucks popping up.
  • And traffic in a bucolic town.  Now and then, the traffic breaks, but only to have a processional of police cars, or first responders going from one event to another, getting through.

    Newtown BOE
  • And then there are flowers and makeshift memorials are on many corners and roadsides that dot the winter landscape with unusual color.

It feels so much like my hometown in Connecticut, even though it is nearly 50 miles away.  Yes, there are the shopping malls, but there are also just plenty of quiet corners with open fields next to classic New England houses.

As I noted earlier this week, my wife and I collected some gift cards for Sandy Hook elementary teachers to use for supplies for their new classrooms or whatever else they needed for their students.  My sincere thanks to all who contributed.  I was moved by the outpouring of support in our efforts over 48 hours.

I had the opportunity to drop the gift cards off at the Newtown Board of Education offices yesterday.  Outside, it was quiet, too quiet for a place of business.  Inside, there was a buzz of  professionals hard at work mixed with the occasional private, touching scene.   A hug to a Sandy Hook child who came for a visit.  A bigger hug to the parents.   The warmth was palpable yet there was also a steely resolve you could feel developing — a sense that school life must, somehow and someway, return.

Employment law will return to this blog, probably after the holidays and with some new ideas, just as those in Newtown will push forward.

But the hole in Connecticut will always remain.

Newtown BOE
Barren fields
Newtown Flagpole
Outside a Newtown church
Makeshift Memorial
Our gift card donation

 

 

 

 

1:00 p.m. update: I’m hearing of slight delays in processing the e-gift cards at Target.  Just please make your contribution as soon as you can today and we’ll watch for them this evening if need be. You can also use Walmart, Staples or Amazon if you prefer.  I am extending the cutoff to donations until this evening due to the demand.    If, due to processing delays, the gift cards don’t arrive until after our delivery, we will attempt to do a followup delivery if necessary, but please, do not order more cards after today (12/18/12).   If you would like to contribute after today, I suggest the United Way relief fund here. 

Yesterday, I briefly mentioned a small personal collection project my wife and I were doing for 48 hours among our friends to get gift cards we could distribute to the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School teachers to help them restock their classrooms with supplies.

Indeed, at that time, I learned from one of my law partners who lives next door to one of the teachers, that the school will be reopening in a temporary location in a few days. (The timing, I understand, is still up in the air.)  Because the old building is still be off limits, each teacher is going to need to figure out what his or her classroom needs.

The goal was, and still is, to collect these gift cards by 6 p.m. on Tuesday (today!) so we can bring them to Newtown on Wednesday morning.

Frankly, I mentioned it only in passing yesterday because I did not want to use this blog draw attention away from the many worthy charities out there taking collections.  After talking with a friend whose son goes to Sandy Hook, my wife and I just started this little “pass the hat” project to help the teachers and never dreamed others would want to help too.

But, this idea seems to have hit a nerve among my friends and colleagues, raising a whole lot in just 24 hours.  And several blog readers contacted me directly to help.

After sleeping on it, I came to one simple conclusion: what’s the point in having a blog if we can’t use it in times of real need?

(NOTE: The donation period has closed)

So, for today only (and please, nothing after today!), if you’d like to help, you can go to Target.com, and buy an e-gift-card in any amount. You can then send them to me via e-mail at dschwartz@pullcom.com.  (If you’d like to use a name, use Sandy Hook teachers or Sandy Hook PTA).   It takes the website several hours to process so the sooner the better.  We’ll take the cards over to Newtown in the morning.

(If you’re in Hartford, you can also drop off physical cards by 5 p.m. to my office at 90 State House Square, 13th Floor.)

Again, this is just a very short-term, targeted little collection effort from my wife and I to get it to teachers on an emergency basis.  Please be sure to donate generously to the many worthy charities that are going to need funds to help this community for years to come.

Thank you.

Normally, this blog writes itself. This morning, however, the words have not come easy.  Does writing about FMLA leave relating to the Newtown tragedy really matter?

Indeed, I’ve rewritten this post about 5 different times.  What can we say that will comfort those? What can we do to help those? Are we helpless to respond?

Yesterday, I heard from a friend whose kids go to Sandy Hook Elementary that the teachers will need the traditional beginning of the year school supplies as they move to a new location for the remainder of the year.   (Normally, teachers do this on their own.) So, my wife and I began a small personal collection of gift cards that we can hopefully give to teachers on Wednesday to help ease the transition.  (If you’d like to help, feel free to e-mail me at dschwartz@pullcom.com). 

But it still doesn’t seem enough.  

So I open this blog up to you. There are subscribers and readers from around the world and there are many worthy efforts to share.   Please add your suggestions on how to help. You can add a link to a local charity to share with others, or just post words of support for those who might be affected by this.

I was moved by the President’s words last night and, regardless of our politics, I hope we can take them to heart:

And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.