As Christmas came to Newtown – the Connecticut city recovering from the worst elementary school shooting in U.S. history – the Henderson family was outside town hall.
“Everybody wants to do something,” father Mike Henderson said, “but nobody knows what to do.”
His family is involved with the Community Learning Project, a group of home school students who meet at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown.
Some of the students planned to be part of a play in mid-December. But the music teacher’s 6-year-old child was one of the 20 students killed Dec. 14, and , “it broke everybody’s heart,” Henderson said, holding back tears.
His wife, Ann, had the idea to make a banner to be put near Newtown’s Main Street. She sent an e-mail to the group members and dozens from all across Connecticut came to their West Hartford home. Their oldest daughter, Caley made a banner with the message, “Our hearts are with you.”
She worked on it with her high school friends. They all felt like they needed to do something, she said.
The Henderson’s was filled with guests, and people kept arriving for hours. Along the edges of the banner they wrote their town names: Canton, Manchester, Middletown, Wilton, and more than a dozen others. The kids put their handprints down first, then the adults did, too.
Patrick, the youngest of the Henderson’s four children at 11, put his red hand print as the dot for the “I.” Around it the others are royal blue, forest green, and yellow.
The Hendersons had some PVC pipes left from a student competition project, and the scouting family had rope and other supplies around the house. So, after Christmas Eve mass and the family dinner, they made the nearly hour drive through the snow and arrived in Newtown shortly before midnight.
“It just hit everybody hard, what was going on,” Mike Henderson said. “It’s tough to know what to do.”