WILLIAMSTOWN -- When Kristen and Jason LaFleur first learned of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, they immediately felt the need to do something for the survivors at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
But as donations of teddy bears, games and other toys poured into the town and officials began asking for donations to be given to other charities, the LaFleurs began thinking of a creative way to send messages to Sandy Hook Elementary School without burdening the town any further. Their solution was to create a paper chain, with each link bearing a message or prayer from a local individual.
"We have a son, who is almost three. It hit me very hard -- no parent should have to say good-bye to their child," Kristen LaFleur said Monday. "To see something like that happen to so many innocent children and to their teachers, who try to create as safe environment for them, is just unthinkable."
She added, "At first we we're just going to send a card, but then we came up with the paper chain, on which people can write words of encouragement. We thought that it would be great to send more than just one thought. We also thought it would be something people could easily contribute too. While we haven't lost anyone in such a way as these poor people have, I think everyone -- on some level -- can relate to what it's like to not have the person you love there anymore. "
On Dec. 16, the LaFleurs created a Facebook event, Chain of Love and Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary, asking individuals to send them messages of support or prayers written on 9-inch by 2-inch pieces of construction paper.
"It's very similar to chains that have been created locally for Breast Cancer Awareness Month," she said. "It's in no way a religious thing. It's just a way to be able to let the poor residents of Newtown know that everyone is thinking of them. It's not a tangible item, but I think words are more powerful."
They also have set up drop off location at the Milne Public Library in Williamstown and outside of the town clerk's office at the Williamstown Town Hall.
"We've already received about 100 links, but we're hoping for more," Kristen LaFleur said. "We were originally going to deliver the chain on Saturday (Jan. 5), but with the holidays, we thought we'd extend it out a little -- the more, the better. We're also hoping to add a few drop-off locations in North Adams."
She added, "I think if we bring a little bit of relief, any small moment of happiness or a small smile to the face of just one person in Newtown, then why not do it?"
For more information, visit the "Chain of Love and Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary," at Chain of Love and Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary