While many students were relaxing or spending time with family and friends over winter break, some decided to take time to write to the families of the Dec. 14 elementary school massacre in Connecticut.
Canton junior Amanda Smith started a Facebook group over winter break called “Letters of Love” to allow CMU students the chance to send letters to the families of the 26 victims. Smith said it was all about the chance to show the community cares.
“I just felt like we needed to do something,” Smith said. “So, I ended up writing something like a big long message, and then I went and posted it on a bunch of the Facebook groups. I was just like a lot of people are responding to it, so I’m just going to make a Facebook group so it’s easier for everyone to talk about it.”
She figured instead of only showing sympathy to the families of the victims through Facebook statuses, students should send the families heartfelt and supportive letters.
“I just think that the letters and this group are a way of showing them this is a horrible tragedy, and we are so sorry for your loss,” Smith said.
“Letters of Love” has gathered more than 450 members. Smith has sent around 100 letters so far.
Grand Rapids junior Amber Schwennesen, a member of the group, said her career choice magnified the impact of the tragedy.
“I want to be an elementary special education teacher, and it was just really hard to watch knowing that … could’ve happened in my own classroom and put it really in perspective the kind of things that I might have to deal with,” Schwennesen said.
Schwennesen tried to provide a sense of individuality in each letter she wrote for the families.
“I looked at all of the victims, read their bios and kind of made a note of certain things that stuck out to me about each one that I wrote a letter to,” Schwennesen said.
Writing a letter helped students like Fenton sophomore Caitlin Miller, who said she not only had a desire to offer comfort for loved ones of the victims, but also to show that even the smallest things can make a difference.
“I let them know that not just me, but my entire university was supporting them … and that everyone really cares deeply,” Miller said.
In addition to the letters, Smith shared links on the “Letters of Love” page where members can go to send victims’ families gifts and financial donations.