The moment might have been fleeting, but 11-year-old Allie Tassiello of Newtown, Conn., enjoyed its warmth.
She was happy, feeling a spark of emotion that has been largely absent from her town since Friday.
The pie came courtesy of Beth Howard, who had loaded up her RV Saturday with 100 cases of Granny Smith apples and drove more than 1,100 miles with her two terrier dogs, Jack and Daisy, from Eldon, Iowa to Newtown after hearing about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 students and six teachers Friday.
Heartbroken and horrified by the news, Howard wrote on Facebook that if a piece of pie would would help ease some of the pain Newtown was feeling, she would "start driving right now," to deliver it.
Within a couple minutes, friends, neighbors and strangers posted a slew of comments, all saying they would pitch in with gas money.
By about 8:00 p.m. Friday, Howard decided she would make the trip. She set up a PayPal account, as friends had suggested, and two hours later she'd received $2,000 in donations.
"I asked myself, 'how can I not go after that wave of enthusiasm and support of people really wanting to help and looking for a way'," Howard said. "I became this vehicle for people who were looking to give back."
Howard finds a certain solace in pie. After her husband, Marcus Iken, died suddenly of a ruptured aorta in
Howard bakes, teaches pie-baking classes and writes for a living. In Eldon, she lives in the American Gothic home that provided the inspiration for artist Grant Wood's famous painting of a farmer couple with a pitchfork. She sells her pies from the Pitchfork Pie Stand.
The plan also included a stop in New Jersey, where a friend, Janice Molinari, and several of her neighbors offered use of their ovens.
Howard arrived in Flanders, N.J., about 3 p.m. Sunday, where Molinari already had her entire neighborhood baking apple pies. By Monday evening, they had cooked and collected at least 250 pies. They arrived in Newtown on Tuesday.
Howard has parked next to the General Store on Main Street where her RV, which has a picture of a giant pie, sparks the interest of passers-by. Some stop, take a minute and enjoy a slice.
Howard, Molinari other many volunteers, hope to stay in the stricken town at least until Saturday.
Throughout the week, Howard also hopes to host baking classes.
"It's an opportunity for people to heal a little bit," she said.
"Most of the time, you give people a slice of pie and it's just them enjoying for a few minutes something sweet," Molinari said. "It might sound silly to say, 'Hey, we are going to bake some pies and bring it the midst of this tragedy,' but in a way it's the simplest gesture I think you can make."