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US School Shooting: Donations and gifts pour in
From: news.sky.com          Published On: December 23, 2012, 15:25 GMT
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US School Shooting: Donations and gifts pour in

Donations of nearly $3m (1.85m) and tens of thousands of gifts have been sent to help those affected by the massacre at a school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Earlier this month, 20 children and six staff were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School by Adam Lanza, who also killed his mother before taking his own life.

The families of the victims and survivors of the massacre have been inundated with items including 60,000 teddy bears, Barbie dolls, footballs and board games.

Gifts are examined by bomb-sniffing dogs before being placed on tables for children to choose whatever they want.

Tom Mahoney, who is responsible for handling gifts at Edmond Town Hall, said: "There's so much stuff coming in. To be honest, it's a bit overwhelming; you just want to close the doors and turn the phone off."

The United Way of Western Connecticut said $2.8m (1.7m) had been donated to the official support fund in the days since the shooting.

A private fund set up by Sandy Hook alumni has collected nearly $150,000 (92,800) for the school, while Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel, which is raising money to build a memorial to the victims, said one man wrote a cheque for $52,000 for the project.

Several colleges have set up scholarship funds to pay for students at Sandy Hook and the relatives of the victims to continue their education.

Isabel Almeida, a spokesman for United Way, encouraged well-wishers not to send gifts to the people of Newtown but to donate money instead.

"Send those teddy bears to a school in your community or an organisation that serves low-income children who are in need this holiday season," she said.

Meanwhile, the US Postal Service said it had seen a six-fold increase in mail to Newtown, including parcels decorated with rainbows and hearts drawn by schoolchildren.

Some letters arrived in packs of 26 identical envelopes - one for each family of the children and staff killed - or addressed simply to the First Responders or The People of Newtown.

"This is just the proof of the love that's in this country," postmaster Cathy Zieff said.

Funerals for three more victims were held on Saturday, including a service for six-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene, whose miniature coffin was brought to The First Cathedral church in Bloomfield, Connecticut, by horse-drawn carriage.

In Ogden, Utah, people tied pink ribbons around trees and utility poles in memory of Emilie Parker, six, while in Newtown, dozens of emergency workers paid their respects at the start of a service for Josephine Gay, seven.

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