On Dec. 14th, 2012, 20 children and 6 adults lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
It was a tragedy that wrecked countless lives and left a nation reeling with grief and confusion — how could this have happened and what could possibly be done to help those involved and prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future? The questions were endless and the answers seemed impossible to reach. One month after that terrible day, the onslaught of media coverage has receded but the recovery for all of those involved has barely begun.
I have no personal connection to this heartbreaking event in Newtown, other than it happening in my home state. Regardless, like much of the country and even the world, I found myself grieving for the victims and their families. I continue to think about them as I travel, and have been struggling to come up with a way to be proactive about it in an effective manner.
The reality that no amount of money or time or prayer can bring back the lives lost that day is incredibly frustrating to those of us who want to help. Despite this disheartening truth, I believe I’ve come up with a way that could not only bring a tiny bit of joy to those who still suffer, but help people all around the world in the process.
As a travel blogger, I realized that I have a unique opportunity to reach a global audience. I know and frequently connect with other travel bloggers and with my audiences combined with theirs, we can reach A LOT of people. So comes my idea for 26 Backpacks…
26 Backpacks is a charity I have started to help 26 schools around the world, in memory of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. For the next four months, I will be fundraising with the help of fellow travel bloggers and attempting to connect with 26 people in different areas of the world who are willing to identify a school that is in need of monetary assistance. This could be for supplies, scholarship, programs, construction — every case will be unique and we will communicate with each school to determine how the funds can best be used. At the conclusion of fundraising, the money will be divided equally among the 26 chosen schools and each participant will be responsible for delivering a backpack full of school supplies to that school. A check will also be included that will hopefully amount to far more than the backpack could possibly contain.
It is my hope that 26 Backpacks will demonstrate a global appreciation for education and a heartfelt response to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Its a way to bring a little bit of light to families who are likely going through their darkest days, through the knowledge that other children will be helped in honor of those they lost.
There are a lot of details to work out as this plan takes shape. It is such a sensitive topic and the grief is still fresh as yesterday marked exactly one month since the event took place. I will ask those who want to be involved to work with me on how to best approach our fundraising efforts and how to connect with those families who wish to be involved. There is a lot of work ahead of us in raising enough money and carrying out the delivery of 26 backpacks but I firmly believe it will be a worth while effort for everyone who wishes to participate.
If you are interested in helping me out with 26 Backpacks, there are all sorts of ways to do so! Travel bloggers, if you’re interested in sharing the fundraiser with your readers, that would be amazing. Anyone who wishes to take responsibility for identifying a school and delivering a backpack — also, amazing. If neither of those options fit your availability and/or ability, there are plenty of other options. Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions/comments/suggestions.
I’m confident that with the help of my readers, peers, friends, and family, we can do something great here. Thank you for just being interested enough to make it to the end of this post, and I look forward to keeping everyone updated on our progress.
And to the entire community of Newtown, Connecticut — the strength shown by your town in the process of rebuilding and recovering is truly remarkable. My heart goes out to each of you, every day.