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Stuffed Toy Helps Survivors Cope With Sandy Hook Massacre

9/11 Survivor And Inventor From California Comes Cross Country To Help Heal
A Starshine Watchdog

The inventor of A Starshine Watchdog gave out the toys to children who survived the Newtown school massacre. (Credit: CBS 2)

Tragedy In Newtown

NEWTOWN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Thursday marks three months since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and many of the families from the school have continued to grapple with the tragedy.

The memories keep their children awake at night. CBS 2’s Alison Harmelin visited one of the families Wednesday, and learned how a small gift is bringing comfort.

Five-year-old Jakob Wenis is learning to read, write and count. He is also learning how to cope.

Jakob, a kindergartner, survived the Sandy Hook massacre.

“We actually thought Jakob had been killed at one point,” said his father, Chris Wenis.

Jakob did not see the shooting, but did witness the chaos afterward when emergency workers swarmed to the scene. Then after the massacre, which left 20 children ages 6 or 7 and six adults dead, Jakob began having nightmares, his parents said.

He described them as “the mad man coming, breaking into the window and coming.”

In Newtown, the sign that once said “Sandy Hook Elementary” has been taken down, the school children relocated, and the street sealed off. But the community is still struggling.

Jakob’s parents said they remembered a toy they had bought for Christmas, called “A Starshine Watchdog.” The idea is that the watchdog stays awake while the little child sleeps, and little stars placed around the room light up scary corners.

“I feel happy and braver,” Jakob said.

Jakob’s parents saw how the toy helped, and called its inventor in California, Geoff Roesch, himself a survivor of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Chris started crying, too. He said we’re talking about my child’s friends — children that were murdered,” Roesch said.

So Roesch packed up every Starshine Watchdog he had, and went to Newtown to hand out hundreds of toys.

“We all just went from school to school to school, including Jakob, bringing them on the truck off the truck; meeting everybody,” said Jakob’s mother, Wende Wenis.

That night, the toys brought comfort to the children and their community.

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