Conn. town in mourning inundated with gifts, money

NEWTOWN, Conn. — This grief-stricken town’s children were showered with gifts Saturday — tens of thousands of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, soccer balls, and board games — but they received only a portion of the tokens of support sent from around the world.

Just a little over a week ago, 20 children and six school ­employees were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother, ­attacked the school, then killed himself. Police do not know what set off the massacre.

Days before Christmas, ­funerals were held Saturday for three children, the last services for which schedules were made public. A service was held in Utah for Emilie Parker, 6. ­Others were held in Connect­icut for Josephine Gay, 7, and Ana Marquez-Greene, 6.


All Newtown’s children were invited to Edmond Town Hall, where they could choose a toy. Bobbi Veach, who was fielding donations at the building, reflect­ed on the outpouring of gifts from toy stores, organizations, and individuals around the world.

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‘‘It’s their way of grieving,’’ Veach said. ‘‘They say: ‘I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out.’ That’s why we accommodate everybody we can.’’

The United Way of Western Connecticut said the official fund for donations had $2.6 million in it Saturday morning. Others sent envelopes stuffed with cash to pay for coffee at the general store, and a shipment of cupcakes arrived from a gourmet bakery in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The Postal Service reported a six-fold increase in mail in town and set up a unique post office box to handle it. The parcels come decorated with rainbows and hearts drawn by school children.

Some letters arrived in packs of 26 identical envelopes, one for each family of the children and staff killed or addressed to the ‘‘First Responders’’ or just ‘‘The People of Newtown.’’ Many contained checks.


‘‘This is just the proof of the love that’s in this country,’’ said Postmaster Cathy Zieff.

Peter Leone said he was busy making deli sandwiches and working the register at his Newtown General Store when he got a phone call from Alaska. It was a woman who wanted to give him her credit card number.

‘‘She said, ‘I’m paying for the next $500 of food that goes out your door,’’’ Leone said. ‘‘About a half hour later another gentleman called, I think from the West Coast, and he did the same thing, for $2,000.’’

At the town hall, the basement resembled a toy store, with piles of stuffed penguins, dolls, games, and other fun gifts. All the toys were inspected and examined by bomb-sniffing dogs before being sorted and put on card tables. The children could choose whatever they wanted.

‘‘But we’re not checking IDs at the door,’’ said Tom Mahoney, the building administrator, who’s in charge of handling gifts.


‘‘If there is a child from another town who comes in need of a toy, we’re not going to turn them away.’’

Mahoney said the town of some 27,000 with a median household income of more than $111,000 plans to donate whatever is left over to shelters or other charities.

In addition to the town’s official fund, other private funds have been set up.

New details about Adam Lanza are continuing to emerge more than a week after the school massacre.

Daniel Frost, who attended a high school computer class with Lanza, recalled that someone brought in a video game called Counter-Strike, a shooting video game in which players compete against each other as either terrorists or counter­terrorists.

Lanza ‘‘seemed pretty interested in the game,’’ Frost said, and would play it with other students. He remembers the weapons Lanza chose: an M4 military-style assault rifle and a Glock handgun.

Authorities said Lanza used a military-style assault rifle and carried handguns during the rampage at the school.