“My school was very touched by everything that’s happening. … My community will do anything to help,” she said.
Bonk added, “Everybody’s heart is broken.”
(END OPTIONAL TRIM)
While delivered items are being directed to Simm Lane, mail is going to a different location — a nondescript warehouse on Trades Lane.
The U.S. Postal Service receives 10 or 12 metal carts full of mail for Newtown every day, each the size of a double-door refrigerator, stuffed with envelopes and boxes.
Some letters are addressed to the victims, or their families. In one corner of the warehouse are rows of green recycling bins, labeled with the names of each victim, and filled with envelopes and boxes. The mail sits there for later distribution to the families. It’s still not clear if, or when, they might want the deluge of attention and affection.
The space — about 8,000 to 10,000 square feet — is filling up.
“People drove out here from Oklahoma on Christmas Eve to see that their package arrived,” said Dennis Stratford, who works in maintenance for the school district.
For safety, the mail and donations are checked by state police and a bomb-sniffing dog.
“Everything we had here had to be sniffed by the dogs,” he said.
At first, the warehouses were guarded by state police and other law enforcement. A security guard patrolled the Trades Lane warehouse Wednesday, and a Newtown police officer arrived in the afternoon.
Stratford was one of two people inside the building sorting mail on Wednesday. Some of the mail was addressed simply to the town, or to the school. Envelopes had cash — including one with a $100 bill — and others contained checks, he said. For that reason, the rest of the mail is being sorted and not opened, he said.
It’s anything you can imagine, Stratford said.
“There was tractor-trailers of teddy bears alone,” he said. “There’s homemade Tiffany lamps, a lot of food.”
In back of the warehouse is a refrigerated container filled with food, which Kelsey said he is discouraging as a form of donation. Alternatively, people can buy gift cards for local businesses in Newtown as a way to offer food to the volunteers. Those gift cards should be mailed to Chris Kelsey, Town Assessor, 3 Primrose St., Newtown, CT 06470.
If people want to give, Kelsey also recommends the United Way fund. Donations can be mailed to Sandy Hook School Support Fund, c/o Newtown Savings Bank, 39 Main St., Newtown, CT 06470 or to the Newtown Memorial Fund, operated through the United Way of Western Connecticut, at http://newtown.uwwesternct.org.
©2012 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)
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PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): CONN-SCHOOLSHOOTING-WAREHOUSE