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Newtown Volunteers Deal With Staggering Amount Of Gifts Donated From Around The World

Volunteers Estimate They Received 2 Teddy Bears For Every Resident In Town
Newtown donations from around the world are stored in a warehouse (credit: CBS 2)

Newtown donations from around the world are stored in a warehouse (credit: CBS 2)

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Tragedy In Newtown

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Following the Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, an outpouring of gifts, notes and support flowed into the typically quiet New England town.

Volunteers have been struggling to keep up with the staggering amount of donations that have come in over the past month.

A warehouse is filled with gifts of love from all around the world.

The volunteers said they have received enough teddy bears to give two to everyone in the town.

Chris Kelsey is in charge of the donations that started coming in immediately after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.

“There’s a lot of very heartfelt items in those boxes,” Kelsey told CBS 2’s Kristine Johnson on Wednesday.

His army of volunteers have been busy sorting through presents from small children to big corporations with the hope of bringing some small measure of peace to the 26 families that lost loved ones.

“They come through periodically to pick out what they want,” Kelsey told Johnson.

Alex Scarpa attended Sandy Hook Elementary as a child. She volunteered to help during Christmas break.

“We want to come together so that nobody has to suffer alone,” Scarpa told Johnson.

Scarpa and the other volunteers have inventoried and packed more than 4,600 boxes of items, including stuffed animals, schools supplies, boxes of tissues — even bicycles.

At last count, there were more than 47,000 donated teddy bears. Volunteers said there are so many that they’ve been sorted by size. That’s almost two for every man, woman and child in Newtown.

“I want to contact all the families. If they have somewhere that they’d like to see stuff go, I want to fulfill those wishes first,”  Kelsey said.

And there seems to be no end in sight to the donations. Johnson reported that six palettes of teddy bears arrived from California while she was at the warehouse.

All this generosity presents an overwhelming, if unintended, burden here.

“We’re grateful for everything we’re getting,” Kelsey said. “But we have enough.”

“If anybody would like to make any kind of contributions, we prefer to make them monetary,” he added.

Kelsey said he doesn’t expect the operation to close for another two months. Until then, he and all the volunteers will continue sorting and boxing until every donated item can be put to good use.

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