The Newtown Documentation Project

Posted On: 12/12/2013 11:53 AM

HVWS parent Yolie Moreno has spent the past year working on a project to document the outpouring of condolences that flooded Newtown after December 14, 2012.

This archive is now available at
Click below to watch a video about Embracing Newtown.

The Hartford Courant interviewed Yolie about the project:

"In Newtown, Preserving World's Reaction To Sandy Hook Tragedy"
The Hartford Courant
3:17 p.m. EST, December 11, 2013

Confounded with grief in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy, Yolie Moreno sat in the cold outside the town's most popular diner off busy Interstate-84 holding a sign she said bore an important message.

"I am love. I am Newtown. Just send love."

And they did, by the truckloads.

People from throughout the world mailed hundreds of thousands of letters, cards, banners and gifts encouraging stricken Newtown to smile, stay strong and hope.

For months after the tragedy, the messages – sent to Sandy Hook Elementary School, town hall, various foundations and the town post offices -- kept coming.

And coming.

The mailings eventually filled four cargo trucks.

Some of the materials went to those directly affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Volunteers, their emotions still raw in the weeks after the tragedy, read through the rest, fighting tears as they continually sorted the items and also tried to answer some of the correspondence.

But the boxes of mail kept coming.

Overwhelmed by the widespread support about a month into their grief, some thought it was time to start throwing things away. Others believed that these expressions should be part of the town's legacy, a bright spot in Newtown's darkest day.

"I was like, this is unbelievable," Moreno said. "I thought, what is going to happen to all of this?"

Was there a way to gently manage this outpouring, to marshall the raw power of these gestures?

So a diverse group of Newtown residents -- librarians, historians, homemakers -- banded together and began a documentation project. The idea was to preserve the material – all of the letters and a thoughtful sampling of the objects and gifts – so that generations could experience the world's reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy the way Newtown did....

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