My daughter had to buy a present to attend the birthday party of a classmate. When I asked what she thought the little girl would like, she came up with a gift that involved creating fashion designs. When asked where I could purchase this item, my daughter told me she saw it in the toy store in Sandy Hook. Yes, that Sandy Hook, the town reluctantly known all over the world due to a terrible and tragic event. So, last Friday, for the second time since that fateful day, I drove to Newtown.
I didn’t go when the throngs of media and people offering their condolences ascended on the streets of a small intersection. Having once lived in the area, I knew that the scene would be overwhelming. Instead I chose to pray, offer a financial donation, and deal with the heartache and disbelief that carries on to this day. A few weeks later, when the reporters and crowds left town, I took my girls to the place they have been getting their haircut for years, Fun Kuts. Marci, the owner and her staff are wonderful, caring, and great with kids. Afterwards, we went to The Toy Tree which is next door. Even though it was early afternoon, the area seemed eerily quiet.
Last Friday, I returned to The Toy Tree to purchase the gift, and bought more than I had intended. It is a wonderful store with many items not found in big box toy stores. I knew my girls would like what I purchased, and I felt it was a small way to help the owner. Leaving the store, I noticed that the street wasn’t lined with parked cars as in the past, and once again, that quietness was there. Much to my dismay, the coffee shop around the corner had closed. This was another business that I had frequented over the years. Was I imagining it, or are people staying away?
When the shooting first happened, swarms of people and media flooded the streets of Newtown. People and reporters from far and wide blocked the roads and sidewalks. So many individuals expressed publicly their concern in the immediate aftermath, but how many have returned to show support? The businesses suffered a loss which the state is attempting to make up to them. What the businesses in Sandy Hook, and town of Newtown on a whole need, is for the residents of surrounding towns to shop in their stores, and eat in their restaurants. There is no reason to stay away. Actions speak louder than words.
This is not a call for the streets to be overwhelmed with visitors, rather a day-to-day flow of traffic that will help these businesses keep their doors open. The owners dealt with the crowds and visitors in a caring and respectful manner. They have passed on messages and items to the families, and have remained strong. Newtown as a whole has handled the tragedy with a spirit of strength, dignity, compassion, and love. We need to let them know that they have our support, admiration, and a place in our hearts that will never go away. Your presence will let them know.