Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 27...

Our 26 Acts of Kindness for Sandy Hook project has been an emotional roller coaster that has more than proved itself to be worth the time, energy, funds and effort. In giving to others, we have seen complete strangers and close friends be inspired to pay it forward or share what they can offer, and in honoring the victims, we have felt a sense of closure knowing they will not be forgotten.

Hopefully this project has inspired people all around the world to do what they can, when they can, to make a positive change. Whether what you have to offer is financial, material, or as simple as a smile, you have the power to make a difference.

On day 27, as we reflect not only on the lives lost that day but on the powerful implications of the choices we make every day, we have chosen to make one final and anonymous donation to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We have included no letter of explanation, and we have chosen not to dedicate it to this project or to any of the lives lost that day. Rather, we make this donation with the hope that those who are in crisis or who feel that someone they love is facing difficulties will make the choice to connect themselves with the appropriate resources to prevent a loss of life. This donation is for the future, and not the past.

If you or someone you know needs help, do not hesitate to act.
For 24-hour crisis support, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Jack Pinto

Our twenty-sixth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Jack Pinto, age 6, who was known for his extreme love for the New York Giants. Jack was an athletic child who loved playing sports and admired Victor Cruz.

The Giants participate in several community activities, including Read Across America, sponsored by the NEA. In honor of Jack's love of the Giants, we have donated to contribute to this program so that other children can appreciate the joy of learning along with their their favorite sports team.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mary Sherlach

Our twenty-fifth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Mary Sherlach, age 56, a school psychologist known for her love of helping students and families overcome difficulties. Her entire career was dedicated to helping others, and Mary planned to retire at the end of this school year to spend more time with loved ones. Mary is credited with attempting to charge the gunman, running toward him in an attempt to save others; she lost her life for her brave and heroic choice.

Mary was a member of Trumbull Community Women, an organization dedicated to community service. For over a decade, Trumbull Community Women have hosted a Relay for Life annual walk. In Mary's honor, we have donated to the local Connecticut chapter of Relay for Life.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jesse Lewis

Our twenty-fourth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Jesse Lewis, age 6, who loved pretending to be a farmer and tending to a toy horse on his lawn. He played soccer and enjoyed sports; his father describes him as a brave, loving boy and says that young Jesse was credited by authorities with trying to lead other children out of the school building.

In Jesse's honor, we are donating a set of toy horses to the Speech Language Pathology department at All Children's Hospital in Florida. This was lovingly suggested to us by our friend Dana, whose mother also had a passion for horses and whose son underwent therapy in this facility. Dana noted that there was a need for more toys in these offices to help children. Thank you, Dana, for helping us find a great home for these toys to honor Jesse.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Avielle Richman

Our twenty-third random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Avielle Richman, age 6, who loved riding and tending horses, the color red and the Harry Potter books. After watching the Disney movie “Brave,” she was inspired to try archery. Her father kept a blog about her daily life in the family and noted everything from her birthday and the joys of being Avielle's father, to such quirky and cute things as her love for minivans.

In memory of Avielle and her favorite book series, we donated the complete set of Harry Potter books to a local library. It is our hope that this donation will allow more children to experience something that brought joy to Avielle's life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Victoria Soto

Our twenty-second random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Victoria Soto, age 27, a first grade teacher who died trying to protect her students. Her quick and selfless response is credited with saving some of the lives in her classroom. Family and friends remember her as a loving teacher who lit up in the presence of her students and who thought and spoke of them fondly, calling them her "angels" and always striving to do more for them.

In remembrance of Victoria Soto's dedication to her students and her passion and love for them, Cathy made a special donation of needed classroom supplies to her local elementary school to a first grade teacher whose impact on students was close to her own heart:

"Patti Torchio was my son's Kindergarten and first grade teacher. George was an extremely shy and introverted child. By the first grade, Ms. Torchio had brought him out of his shell and he became a social butterfly with no shyness in sight. She cares for her children as if they were her own and not a day goes by that you don't see the distinctive "Patti Smile;" her whole face lights up.

Thank YOU, Patti, for all that you have done for George and the many children whose lives you have changed and enriched throughout the years." - Cathy

 Cathy and her son George, presenting the supplies and flowers to Ms. Torchio (center)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Emilie Parker

Our twenty-first random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Emilie Parker, age 6, who was most known for her love for art and drawing. Emily filled up every notebook her parents gave her and constantly carried around supplies, ready to draw at a moment's notice. She often drew pictures for people who needed comforting, as a way of reaching out to those around her.

When Cathy purchased the art supplies in the photo below and shared the story of the Random Acts of Kindness for Sandy Hook with the cashier, he promptly offered his employee discount.

In honor of Emilie, these supplies were donated to a local elementary school for projects and crafts.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Benjamin Wheeler

Our twentieth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Benjamin Wheeler, age 6, who was known for his love of the #7 train to Sunnyside, Queens. Every time the Wheeler family visited New York, Benjamin rode the 7 train. His mother recalls that, while most children loved things like the museums and zoos, Benjamin loved the subway the most. For Christmas, Benjamin had asked for a model of the train he so adored.

In honor of Benjamin and his love of subway train 7, a friend of ours from New York, Alisa Baroukh, generously donated ten toy replicas for us to give out at the Children's Hospital of Boston. We hope that Benjamin's passion for the subway trains lives on in other children. Thank you, Alisa, for your contribution and your support!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dawn Hochsprung

Our nineteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Dawn Hochsprung, age 47, the principal who rushed the gunman in an attempt to save the staff and students. As a wife, mother of two, and stepmother of five, Dawn had everything to lose when she made the critical choice to put others before herself, and yet she acted without hesitation, putting others first.

Dawn was known, in her life, as a woman who would stick up for everyone. Whether in her role as principal or in politics, which she spoke out for under a pseudonym on Facebook so as not to interfere with her professional life, Dawn did not believe in treating others differently. She was passionate about her job and was always looking for ways to change the school for the better.

To help continue Dawn's dream for fairness and equality for all, we have made a donation to the Jamie Isaacs Foundation for Anti-Bullying.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chase Kowalski

Our eighteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Chase Kowalski, age 7, a little boy who loved to laugh and play sports and was actively involved in Cub Scouts. Chase is most fondly remembered for his big smile, which is family said "lit up a room;" more recently, he was known for a change in that grin- Chase had lost his two front teeth and had desperately wanted them back.

In Chase's memory and as a nod to those very valuable little teeth he wanted to protect and keep, a dental cleaning for one child is being paid in full.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Olivia Engel

Our seventeenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Olivia Engel, age 6, who was known for her huge personality, sense of humor, wiggliness, and her love of swimming and other activities, including dance, Girl Scouts, and church programs. She led the family's nightly prayers over dinner.

In Olivia's memory, we are sponsoring swimming lessons for a child at the Boys and Girls Club. This donation was made possible by Gretchen Henry, who generously contributed the necessary funds. Thank you, Gretchen, for your support!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Noah Pozner

Our sixteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy honors the memory of Noah Pozner, age 6, who wanted to be a taco factory manager, a doctor, and a soldier. Noah was the youngest victim but was known for being very intelligent. His mother recalled that he was easily able to pick up on anything he was taught and had a big heart.

In remembrance of Noah and his ambitious career aspirations, Aaron Allen, a solider now stationed in Germany, and his wife Katie donated the funds to send this care package to a soldier in Afghanistan.

Thank you, Aaron and Katie, for your generous contribution.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Madeleine Hsu

Our fifteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Madeleine Hsu, age 6, who was a shy girl that came out of her shell every morning at the bus stop because she loved petting her neighbor's dog. Madeleine enjoyed reading, dancing, dressing up, and running.

In Madeleine's honor, we have contributed funds to Annie's Locker, a nonprofit organization that helps fund running equipment and scholarships for local runners in Rockford, Illinois. Their mission is to help as many people as possible become physically fit and experience the joy of running, regardless of financial status.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Anne Marie Murphy

Our fourteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Anne Marie Murphy, age 52, a teacher's aide and special education teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Anne Marie touched the nation as news reports flooded in to share the story that she had wrapped her arms around young Dylan Hockley and cradled him as they were shot multiple times. Dylan, a young boy with autism, had adored Anne Marie so much that his family kept a photo of her on their fridge. She was his teacher and in their final moments, his comfort.

In Anne Marie's memory, Cathy generously allowed me to present an iPad to my own special needs child's former preschool. Part of the money used to purchase the iPad was donated by Jamie, a teacher and single mother who was so touched by the acts of kindness that she began to set aside money to help rather than purchase coffee and lunches out for herself. Thank you, Jamie, for helping to make a difference!

Each act of kindness is equally touching and important, but being able to participate in the giving and sharing and to honor Anne Marie by presenting a gift to a teacher who has helped so profoundly change the life of my son for the better was incredible. I wish to sincerely thank Cathy, Jamie, the Cathy's Creations staff, and all of the Frikes for making things like this possible.

I made the decision to contact the local news to cover this story, and thankfully they agreed that it was worth sharing! It was an honor to bring attention to this beautiful and uplifting project, and to Special Children's Friends.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Grace McDonnell

Our thirteenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Grace McDonnell, age 7, who loved the ocean and dreamed of becoming a painter who lived in Martha's Vineyard. Her family called her the "light" of their home, and she is sorely missed by her brother Jack. Grace was also known for her constant motion. Whether skipping joyfully to the bus stop or tumbling in gymnastics classes with friends, Grace enjoyed life to the fullest.

In Grace's memory, we have donated the funds to cover half of the gymnastics lesson fees for a little girl at a Tumble Kids center.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jessica Rekos

Our twelfth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Jessica Rekos, age 6, a little girl whose passion for horses was almost an obsession. It was what she cared to read books and watch movies about, and she loved to draw pictures and write stories about horses. She anxiously awaited her 10th birthday, when her parents promised her she could have a horse of her own.

For Christmas, Jessica had asked for pink cowboy boots.

In trying to honor Jessica's memory, the request for those unique pink boots stood out. When searching for children's sized pink cowboy boots, Cathy happened upon a company that sold them and went to investigate their Facebook page. It was then that she noticed a friend had liked that page. Upon speaking to that friend about the company and the boots, she happened to ask if the woman's daughter owned a pair of the boots. The woman said that the boots were out of the price range of her budget, and that's when Cathy offered to purchase the boots for the woman's daughter, in memory of Jessica.

The recipient of this act of kindness is a child, and because of the sensitivity of the issues surrounding this project, we felt it was not our place to present a letter.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

James Mattioli

Our eleventh random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of James Mattioli, age 6, who was remembered by his family for his love of food, music, and spending time tending to horses at the stables where his sisters rode. James loved to ask questions, learn new things, and spend time with his family. He enjoyed sports such as baseball, basketball, swimming, and arm wrestling.

James's favorite dinner request was Subway ham sandwiches and he often asked how old he would have to be to order a foot long. In James's honor, someone who orders a sandwich at Subway will be surprised with a free foot long sub and the following letter:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Caroline Previdi

Our tenth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Caroline Previdi, age 6, who loved ballet and jazz dance classes and the color pink. Last year at Christmas time, Caroline broke her piggy bank to donate her funds to her priest to help other families facing struggle.

Caroline was known for being bouncy, happy-go-lucky and filled with personality.

In Caroline's memory, our fellow Frike and beloved friend Tracey's mother Heather, from the Heather Glen School of Highland Dance of Taylorsville, UT sent $100.00 to be applied to a dance class for a student at Dance Express of Tolland, in Tolland, CT. Thank you, Heather, for your generosity!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Daniel Barden

Our ninth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Daniel Barden, age 7, who dreamed of becoming a firefighter like his uncles. Daniel was known for being intelligent, lively, and unfailingly kind... a little boy who loved to rough house and was considered by his mother to be "just so good."

In Daniel's honor, we contacted Stella's Pizza and ordered four pizzas to be delivered to the local fire station as a thank you to our heroes for their hard work and dedication. When Stella's Pizza heard why we had placed this hefty order, they covered part of the costs and charged us only $20.00 for all four pizzas!

Thank you, Stella's Pizza, for your hard work and generous contribution to our random acts of kindness!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Charlotte Bacon

Our eighth random act of kindness for the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy was made in the memory of Charlotte Bacon, age 6, who was known for her extreme love of animals of all kinds, but most notably her family's pet dog. Charlotte was obsessed with the color pink and was known for lighting up the room and bringing joy to everyone she met.

In Charlotte's honor, a portion of an emergency vet visit was funded yesterday at Fresh Pond Animal Hospital in Massachusetts. It is our hope that the owner of the animal in need felt touched by Charlotte's passion for animals and that she once again lit up a room.

A portion of the funds that made this act of kindness possible were donated by our wonderful Leah's awesome mother! Thank you for your generosity!