To the editor:
On Friday, Dec. 14, 2012, the tragic event in Newtown, Conn., staggered our nation. The shootings in schools and movie theatres and shopping malls that have taken place over the past few years all have been terrible tragedies. But the Newtown shooting of so many innocent young children took these events to a new level.
Like many, at first, I was in a state of non-believing. Then, sometime on Friday afternoon, I realized that I had an opportunity to do something that might bring comfort to the brothers and sisters and schoolmates of the stricken children. My neighbor and friend, Sheila Duncan, together with her niece Kendra, started Trouble the Dog in 2006. Trouble is a small stuffed dog that brings a message of hope and resiliency to the children who come to know him. I approached Sheila on Saturday with the idea of taking Trouble to Newtown and to try to get him in the hands, first, of the siblings of the young victims by Christmas.
Sheila had been thinking the same thing and by the following Tuesday the National Grand Bank had agreed to set up an account to receive donations to help us send Trouble to Newtown. By early Thursday morning, Sheila and I had 150 Trouble Dogs loaded in my truck along with books about Trouble and a Trouble doghouse that had been rushed to production in order to meet our deadline.
On our drive to Newtown, Sheila worked her cell phone and by the time we arrived in the Newtown area we had two more volunteers ready to help us. Soon after arriving, we were able to meet Justin Michaels, a reporter for the New England Cable News, who graciously agreed to interview us about our mission and to get us on the noon news that day. By the time we left Newtown in the evening, we had arranged to keep the Trouble Dogs, books and dog houses at a friend of Sheila’s who was one of our volunteer helpers and happened to know the family of one of the young victims.
By Christmas Eve, we received word from a Connecticut state trooper that the first of the families had received their Trouble Dog. Later that Christmas Eve, Trouble was in the hands of eight more of the families who had lost children. Since then, many more Trouble Dogs have been placed with the families of the victims and will be placed in the new school that the schoolmates of the victims are attending. The school children can help to put the Trouble packages together along with messages of hope and caring.
Newtown received more than 1 million stuffed animals and many are now being given away to various charities. While those gifts have been meaningful, we are delighted that Trouble has been able to make his way to those most in need, the families of the victims and their friends. In addition, therapists working with the children of Newtown have been made aware of Trouble and have been requesting Trouble to help work with their young patients.
All of this has been made possible by the generous help of many people and the donations of the residents of Marblehead. Since we continue to receive requests to send more Trouble Dogs to Newtown, donations continue to be needed. Donations can be made at the National Grand Bank by making your check out to Hope For Newtown or by going on-line at troublethedog.net and clicking on the “donate” button. Thanks again to all those who have helped bring Trouble the Dog and his message of hope to Newtown.