Two Newark residents collected nearly 4,000 teddy bears after a simple post on Facebook.
Bryant Gaul and Josh Moore said that they knew they had to do something for the victims and first-responders of the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“Seeing it on TV, it hit home, I just couldn’t believe it happened,” Moore said. “Then, getting to the town and seeing just an entire city memorial.”
The two posted on Facebook about their wish to donate to the victims, and help started pouring in.
They thought they would collect hundreds of teddy bears but instead found themselves with nearly 4,000.
“Anything we could do to help, we wanted to do,” Gaul said.
With enough bears, along with 582 boxes of new toys, to fill a 16-foot moving truck, the two drove nonstop through a snowstorm to deliver the gifts as soon as possible.
“The best way I could describe it was numb,” Gaul said.
The two said that every street in the town seemed to have a memorial. The horror of the shooting was clearly evident in the faces of the people who they met.
One bear they delivered helped ease the pain of a firefighter. It came courtesy of a Newark Boy Scout troop.
“You could see his gratefulness,” Gaul said. “I mean he almost went into tears when we gave it to him.”
Though the men have returned from their trip, they are still giving back – donating money they did not use on purchasing Christmas presents for Newark families in need.
Should another tragedy strike, they said, the men are prepared to launch their teddy bear brigade.
“A bear isn’t going to bring back their friends or their classmates, but it might give them some comfort,” moore said.
More than $2.8 million in donations have poured into Newtown’s official memorial fund.
The local United Way asked people to stop sending toys and instead to do charitable work or make donations in the victims’ names.
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