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Help from home and across the US for Newtown

Updated 10:18 pm, Tuesday, December 18, 2012

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  • Valorie Correa, a co-owner of Judd's Flowers in Danbury, works on an arrangement of flowers ordered for one of the memorials for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting on Friday. Her business has received an abundance of similar orders, some in quanities of 26, one for each of the victims. She says, "I'll probably be delivering in the middle of the night, just to get through the town." Photo: Carol Kaliff / The News-Times
    Valorie Correa, a co-owner of Judd's Flowers in Danbury, works on an arrangement of flowers ordered for one of the memorials for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting on Friday. Her business has received an abundance of similar orders, some in quanities of 26, one for each of the victims. She says, "I'll probably be delivering in the middle of the night, just to get through the town." Photo: Carol Kaliff

 

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Reaching out Here are some resources available in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship Fund at the University of Connecticut will provide financial aid for any students who attend the school, as well as siblings of the children killed in the attacked and dependents of the adults who died in the shooting. To donate, visit www.friends.uconn.edu/sandyhook. The Connecticut Funeral Directors Association has set up a fund to aid the families of those who died. Visit www.ctfda.org. The Dignity Memorial network of funeral, cremation and cemetery providers is making its Compassion Helpline available at no charge to families and friends of the victims, as well as others affected by the shooting. Call 800-854-8080. Dr. Cayer's Health and Wellness Center, 97 South Main St., Newtown, will offer free adjustments, chair massage and other services between 9 a.m. and noon Saturday for those affected by the shooting.
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As a chiropractor, Eugene Cayer's specialty is cracking people's spines to ease tension and pain.

But over the past few days, he has witnessed the kind of searing agony that no one can easily fix.

"Whenever someone loses a child, it rocks a parent to the core. Everybody gets that feeling of `It could have been me,' " said Cayer, who runs a practice on South Main Street in Newtown.

Everyone who comes through his office has been affected in some way by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 26 people dead, 20 of them children.

So Cayer decided to help. On Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon, he will offer a variety of services for free to those affected by the shooting, including spinal adjustments, chair massages and acupuncture.

He is one of hundreds to step up in the wake of last week's tragedy to offer Newtown and Sandy Hook residents everything from a hot meal to a cup of coffee to counseling services and beyond.

Funeral costs, including caskets for the young victims, have been covered by donations from various vendors, coordinated by the Connecticut Funeral Directors Associations.

Scholarships and memorial funds have sprung up to provide financial support for families affected by the shootings, and people are already giving generously.

Arthur Sorrentino, spokesman for the University of Connecticut Foundation, said a scholarship fund set up to honor those who died received more than 650 donations, totaling more than $33,000, in its first 24 hours. That doesn't include an $80,000 "lead gift" from women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and his wife.

"We would characterize this as a very encouraging response," Sorrentino said.

Much of the outpouring has been in form of simple gestures, such as the family who lives near Chalk Hill School in Monroe -- where the surviving Sandy Hook students will go to school when they return to class -- who hung a banner welcoming the students and staff. The Home Depot in Trumbull donated the supplies.

Random acts of kindness have come from all over the country, including the elderly San Diego woman who called the Stone River Grill, located near the elementary school and donated $150 so a family could have a meal.

Gary Seri, owner of the restaurant, said he's received many calls like that. Since his restaurant has been featured frequently in TV news reports on the shooting, it has become a bit of a lifeline for strangers across the country looking to help.

"People have been calling, saying, `Put $15 on my credit card and buy someone a dessert,' " Seri said. "They just want to help. They feel very helpless from where they are, and this is a means for them to have done something."

That's the same reason calls have been pouring in to florists throughout the region.

Valorie Correa, co-owner of Judd's Flowers in Danbury, said hers is one of several flower shops getting orders from all over the world for arrangements to be sent to the funerals of the many victims, or to one of the many memorials erected in Sandy Hook.

One call even came from Australia, Correa said.

"They just want to do something," she said. "They were so touched by what happened here. (The orders are) just coming in from all over. I think the Newtown community appreciates the support. It's just a little overwhelming."

In addition to the families, some are focusing their kindness on the many emergency workers and clergy who have been working around the clock since the shooting. Cayer said he would soon be heading out to offer some free chiropractic service to Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, who has been one of the community's spiritual leaders following the tragedy. "He probably hasn't slept in four days," Cayer said.

Michael Landry, owner of Demitasse Cafe in Newtown, has donated urns of coffee to service workers at the firehouse "so they stay warm. They're out there 24-7, and it's cold."

acuda@ctpost.com; 203-330-6290; twitter.com/AmandaCuda; http://blog.ctnews.com/whatthehealth/