A family from the Newtown, Conn. community will be in attendance for the Christmas Eve vigil planned in Stoneham to honor the Newtown shooting victims, according to organizer Erin Sinclair.
Dara and Joe McKenzie, who have lived in Newtown for three years, will be attending the vigil, according to Sinclair.
"(The McKenzies) have an almost 3-year-old daughter Kylie who was most likely going to attend Sandy Hook Elementary (School) for preschool in September," Sinclair said, adding that the family was not a victim in the shooting.
Joe McKenzie has ties to the Stoneham community, as he grew up in town, according to Sinclair. His mother Elaine McKenzie is a native of Stoneham and serves as a children's librarian at Stoneham Public Library, while his father Richard McKenzie has lived in town for more than 30 years, she added. Janyce and Andrew, Joe's siblings, are graduates of Stoneham High School, Sinclair noted. All but Joe's brother, who currently lives in California, will be attending the vigil slated for 6:30-7:30 p.m. Monday at Stoneham Town Common.
Donating to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund
Dara McKenzie, who is on the executive board of a moms club in Newtown, told Sinclair that Newtown Savings Bank has partnered with the United Way in establishing the Sandy Hook School Support Fund and donations can be made at this website: https://newtown.uwwesternct.org/.
The Sandy Hook School Support Fund will be establishing a committee of local community leaders to determine how the money will be used, according to Sinclair. Donations can also be mailed to:
Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
c/o Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470
Honoring A Request
At the request of Dara McKenzie, Stoneham has reduced the total number of balloons to be released during the vigil.
"They had one concern and that was the release of 28 balloons and Newtown was requesting that we consider only releasing 27," Sinclair said. "They are very sensitive to this issue and I felt absolutely comfortable following the wishes of the community we are supporting. I also put her in contact with the other communities that I know of that are participating and she has been successful in reaching out and we are all releasing a total of 27."
Sinclair provided an overview of what may take place during the Christmas Eve vigil.
"My rough plan for the balloon ceremony is having the children/adults involved walk the circle of the Common while James Masone from "The Voice" (he is a close friend of the Stockbridge family and wants to be a part of this vigil) sings 'Hallelujah,' then have the them line up with their balloons in the center of the Common," Sinclair explained. "I will read the names of the 26 victims and the 27th will be for (the) victim(s) of acts of violence.
"We will be releasing the balloons at 7:20 p.m., with a two-minute moment of silence, then in closing we will have Dara McKenzie, the voice from Newtown to Stoneham (speak), (before concluding) our ceremony."
Stonehamites Helping the Cause
Stoneham resident Teagan Parker has made pins and they will be handed out at the vigil if anyone wants to make a donation, according to Sinclair. Fellow Stonehamite Kim Plourde is working on "The Snowflake Project" where she is looking for cheerful, happy (think glitter and sparkly) snowflakes that contain no words, according to Sinclair. The snowflakes, which will be collected during the vigil at the gazebo at the Common, will be used to decorate the new building where the Sandy Hook students will be returning.
For more information about making a donation, call 800-461-0672 or contact United Way representatives David Deschenes at 203-792-5330 ext. 239 or Isabel Almeida at 203-792-5330 ext. 106.