WAHOO – In the wake of last week’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, an effort is underway to let the Connecticut families know they are not alone.
Several Wahoo men and a Wahoo native have organized a collection of toys, stuffed animals, blankets and cards. The donations will be sent to Newtown, Conn, where they will be distributed as needed.
Wahoo Public School Media Director Dave Privett said the idea took root soon after the Dec. 14 massacre that left 27 people – including 20 first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary – dead.
Privett said he was talking with another Wahoo resident, Jason Stevens. Stevens is a former Wahoo music teacher and now teachers at Millard South High School in Omaha.
“That’s another school that was touched by a fatal shooting in 2011, and as we were talking, we decided that we had this strong need to do something to help out the students and the residents of that community,” Privett explained.
That is how the drive got started. Donations will be accepted until 10 a.m. on Friday, and may be dropped of at the Wahoo Middle School/High School library.
“What we’re looking for is any item that will bring fun or comfort to the students of that community,” he said. “That could be some new toys, stuffed animals or even pillows and blankets.”
Privett added that they are also accepting any cards or notes of support that people might care to send.
“If someone wants to write a letter of support or send a card expressing their sympathy, we’ll be happy to take those too.”
Privett added monetary donations would be accepted until Thursday.
“We’ve got a group of ladies that has volunteered to take those donations and go shopping for comfort items,” explained Privett.
As news of the drive spread, Privett said that other groups have set up additional collection points in both Omaha and Lincoln.
“It’s just really grown, and I think that’s because so many people were touched by this tragedy, and they want to show the residents of that community that they have the support of people all across the nation,” said Privett.
Privett and Stevens initially made arrangements for one trailer and planned to drive the donations to Connecticut themselves. They reached out to Wahoo native and 1977 Wahoo High
School graduate Nancy Yarmon Tortora, who lives in a community close to Sandy Hook Elementary
“She’s made arrangements with her church to serve as the local drop off point for those donations,” explained Privett. “She’s even going to put us up for the night.”
Now that the project has grown, Privett said he wasn’t sure whether one trailer would hold all of the donations. That’s not a problem however.
“If that’s the case, I already have more volunteers that will provide additional trailers or drivers, and we can caravan,” he said.