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A ‘snow’ of support

Aiden Camp 7 Hobart Ind. draws snowflake with his great-grandmother Penelope Castor First United Methodist Church Crown Point Ind. |

Aiden Camp, 7, of Hobart, Ind., draws a snowflake with his great-grandmother Penelope Castor at the First United Methodist Church in Crown Point, Ind. | Scott R. Brandush~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 10, 2013 5:55PM



Visitors to a recent event in the community room at the First United Methodist Church in Crown Point found hundreds of snowflakes scattered about.

But they didn’t come from a hole in the roof or open door — they were made of paper for a special project earmarked for the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., touched by the recent shooting tragedy.

“My kids, who are 21/2, 5 and 7, wanted to do something for the kids in Connecticut,” said Erika Wagner, church member and coordinator of the craft project. “My oldest wanted to make a card, but I wasn’t sure what was appropriate. A friend put me in touch with the Connecticut PTA, who wanted to decorate the children’s new school as a winter wonderland. They asked for handmade snowflakes to make this possible.”

No sooner asked for than done.

“We thought about inviting over a few friends to make a few snowflakes, but our list got a little longer than expected,” Wagner added. “I called our church to see if we could use space to hold a few more kids. After speaking with our pastor, Mark Wilkins, the idea snowballed to include not only our church family, but also the entire community.

“It is my hope that this event will not only show support for the families in Connecticut, but also allow local families to do something tangible at a time when no one really knows what to do. This tragedy has touched so many.”

Word was sent out through flyers, Facebook and other means. Hundreds of children and adults turned out for the craft session.

In addition to the paper craft tables, there were areas that offered supplies of another sort. Pipe cleaners, colored plastic beads, glitter glue, small Styrofoam balls and other items were available for those wishing to unleash their creativity for other decorations.

“This is incredible,” said Wilkins as he gazed at the hundreds of visitors busily fashioning their masterpieces. “If you want to see the heart of a community, just look around.”

The church took the responsibility to mail out the boxes earmarked for Connecticut, thanks to donations from members.

Seated at one of the craft tables was the Herman family of Merrillville.

Jolene Herman, husband Lee and daughter Lee Ann, 5, had made 10 snowflakes of varying sizes between them.

“This is a family thing for us today,” Jolene said. “Every Saturday we take time from our busy schedules to do something productive with our daughter. And you can’t get any more productive than what we’re doing today.”

After the family finished and added their contribution, Lee Ann had her face painted while Mom shopped at the bake sale and Dad got a small ice cream sundae. Listening to local storyteller Grant Fitch, who offered four sessions during the event, also was on the family’s to-do list.

Church member Liza Sergeant manned the pastry table and was kept hopping. The cookies and cupcakes were very popular and started disappearing rapidly only an hour into the event

“Everyone has been so generous with these (baked goods) donations,” she said. “Not just our church members, but other people from the community as well.”

All proceeds from the bake sale, and from the donation cans located near the activities, were sent straight to the Connecticut PTA, according to Wagner. In turn, the money was sent to Sandy Hook Elementary School, she added.



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