Residents create 1,000 snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary School

January 1, 2013

By Lillian O'Rorke

Arden Caley, a second grade student at Endeavour Elementary School, said she liked the idea of making snowflakes. By Lillian O’Rorke

Fold after fold and snip after snip, white paper trimmings piled up Dec. 21 at the Beaver Lake Lodge, where more than 130 local residents, mainly children, gathered to create snowflakes for Sandy Hook Elementary School students.

After the Dec. 14 shooting in Newtown, Conn., Sandy Hook students will return to class Jan. 3 in a new building. To help welcome them back, volunteers plan to turn the school into a winter wonderland using paper snowflakes.

Corene Caley, who has a 7-year-old daughter at Endeavour Elementary School, saw a post about the snowflakes on Facebook and thought it would be fun to join in the effort.

“It’s cool to live in a place where you can have an idea, send out an email and 48 hours later this happens,” Caley said.

After reading about the snowflakes online, she contacted Dawn Sanders, volunteer coordinator for the city of Sammamish, to rent the space at Beaver Lake Lodge. Sanders said, “Let’s do one better.”

In order to get the lodge for free, she connected Caley with the local nonprofit Kids Without Borders. Word about the snowflakes spread and by 3 p.m. Dec. 14 a crowd of people from around Sammamish, Issaquah and beyond was busy turning ordinary printer paper into giant ice crystals.

“We encourage senders to be as creative as possible, remembering that no two snowflakes are alike,” the National PTA posted on its website,

Elyse Kelsey, a freshman at Skyline High School, said she was looking for a fun project to do over winter break when she was emailed about the event.

“It was really sad what happened,” she said as the pile of snowflakes grew between her and her friend and classmate Maia Nguyen. “We thought it would be a good way to give back even though we are on the other side of the country.”

How to help

Snowflakes need to be sent by Jan. 12 to Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514. Additionally, the national and state PTA organizations will indefinitely accept donations to the Connecticut PTSA “Sandy Hook Fund” to provide ongoing support to the community. Checks can be mailed to the same address.

A few tables away, Brandon Tanner was busy giving a snowflake tutorial. The Issaquah High School senior had gathered six of his friends from as far away as Olympia for the event.

“We just thought it would be fun to help people,” he said.

But extra hands were not the only things he brought to Beaver Lake. He also carried in a bag full of snowflakes that he and his family had made at home.

People chatted and occasionally giggled at each other’s designs. For some of the children, the events of Dec. 14 were unknown, and they were simply helping students across the country decorate their school. Others had watched the news and were familiar with the details.

Cherstin Aageson said her son, a second-grader at Endeavour, knew about the school shooting and was happy to help out. He sat between his two younger sisters and helped them with the mechanics of cutting and coloring their own snowflakes for Sandy Hook.

“It’s a great idea,” Cherstin Aageson said. “It’s nice to be able to help and be a part of any healing for these kids … to send warm thoughts to them and let them know we’re thinking of them when they come back.”

By the end of the afternoon, more than 1,000 snowflakes were collected.

The Connecticut PTSA will continue to collect snowflakes for the next two weeks and ask that they be sent by Jan. 12.

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