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Organizations Commemorate Sandy Hook Children with Book Drive

Jessica Nath
90.5 WESA

It has been more than a year since 20 first graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., but two organizations are keeping their memory alive by collecting and delivering books for the more than 1,700 homeless children in Allegheny County.

Grassroots organization HearYourselfThink collected new and gently used children’s books to commemorate those who died at Sandy Hook Dec. 14 2012.

Dave Ninehouser, founder, said they were inspired by the Sandy Hook parents who encouraged people to do works for the common good in their own communities.

“The kids who were killed were just at the age of learning to read, they were at school obviously and their teachers were obviously committed to their education and sacrificed their lives to protect those kids and it was just a small way to honor those kids and the teachers,” Ninehouser said.

They collected children’s books, pop-up books, audio books, games and toys to deliver to the Homeless Children’s Education Fund (HCEF) Friday.

HCEF will distribute the books and games to their 25 shelters and learning centers -- including their new learning center at Sankofa House in Homewood.

Bill Wolfe, HCEF executive director, said they need books for all ages.

“We have agencies that are focused on preschool children, we have agencies that are focused on K-12, and we have agencies that are focused on unaccompanied youth, which are usually children between 16 and 21.”

Ninehouser said the books will help the families build deep values and give them a break from negativity.

“Early reading is critical to develop critical thinking skills, to promote imagination, to promote empathy and to give families the encouragement to step aside from a lot of the overheated inflammatory media sources that really promote incivility, they promote a lot of negativity and cynicism,” Ninehouser said.

HearYourselfThink will also send a holiday card to the Sandy Hook Promise, a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook Parents, telling them how many books were donated in their honor.

Jess is from Elizabeth Borough, PA and is a junior at Duquesne University with a double major in journalism and public relations. She was named as a fellow in the WESA newsroom in May 2013.