NEWTOWN, Conn. (CNN) — After the school tragedy in Newtown, Conn., donations, toys and gifts poured in from around the world. Now, more than two months after the deadly shooting, families had a chance to take home those tokens of support.
Whether it’s a race car, or a pop star heart throb, it’s “Christmas in February” for the children of Sandy Hook and Newtown – lining up for a much-deserved grab-bag of gifts laid out for the taking.
“It’s really special that we’re here and that everyone donated these for us because of what happened,” says Newtown resident Ashley Hammond.
What happened was unprecedented, as was the nation`s response.
Toys and presents by the truckload pouring into the communities. Outsiders did what they could to comfort those so close to tragedy.
“It’s not just a toy. It’s everyone in the world wanting to be a part of the healing process,” adds Ann Benore with Newtown’s Social Services Department.
These teddy bears are just a handful of the 60,000 that were sent into Newtown and they’re just a portion of the thousands of other gifts that were given out. In fact, this room makes up just one-third of everything mailed in from around the world.
Newtown resident Joey Newton notes, “We’re thankful for everybody who sent in items.”
Newton’s three daughters were all smiles. Their faces painted with joy.
Other children reflected on the gesture from those outside their town.
“It’s pretty special that everyone gave this stuff to us for us to be happy,” says Emily Hammond.
Carley Nuzzo adds, “I think it’s pretty cool that a lot of people donated all this stuff just for us and us to be happy and try to get over it.”
Whether they left with crayons, books or a coveted Justin Bieber doll, the desire among many was that the children recognize the meaning behind the donations.
“I’m hoping that they understand and their parents explain to them where these came from so that they feel the love that was sent to us.”
The families directly affected by the tragedy had the first pick of the donations. Some of the larger item, like bikes and rollerblades, were auctioned off.
The remaining gifts will be donated to area charities.