Showing Support for Newtown
T-shirt sales by Kerin Sovern ’05 of Newtown, CT, have raised almost $36,000 for the families of victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Kerin Sovern ’05 was born and raised in Newtown, CT, about a mile from Sandy Hook Elementary School. Unlike many young people looking to go far from home when selecting a college, she happily chose one nearby. “I went to Marist knowing that it was so close to home because I was a homebody. I loved Sandy Hook and Newtown and take great pride in where I grew up.” She and her friends even made T-shirts that said "I love Newtown” to show their love for their hometown.
The shooting that took the lives of 20 first graders and 6 educators at Sandy Hook Elementary on Dec. 14, 2012, surely changed almost everything, for everyone in Newtown. But it didn’t change how Sovern and her friends felt about their home.
After the shooting, from San Diego where she works as an account manager for Libbey Foodservice, Sovern posted a photo on Facebook of her and her friends wearing their “I love Newtown” T-shirts. There was an outpouring, she says, “from everyone, telling me to make them as a fundraiser.”
Links Unlimited of Ohio, where a Newtown friend of Kerin’s works, donated the first 500 shirts, as well as printing and shipping. The company provided the rest of the shirts at cost, with continued free shipping. More than 2,000 shirts were made.
A Web site selling the shirts, www.newtownpride.com, went live on Dec. 19. Since then, sales have raised close to $36,000 for the My Sandy Hook Family Fund. The fund was established by Sandy Hook parents and friends dedicated to providing support for the families who lost loved ones in the tragedy. “Every last dime is going to the families,” Sovern says.
Word of the effort traveled fast via radio and TV interviews and social media. “I am pretty Facebook-savvy and have a great network, so it spread like wildfire,” she says. While much of the support came from San Diego and Newtown, Sovern says shirts have been mailed as far as Australia, Germany, England, Canada, and Mexico.
Her Marist College network came through as well. Every single one of her Marist friends purchased a shirt, says Sovern, and her sister, Liz Sovern ’03, also helped a great deal.
The event was devastating, says Kerin Sovern, but the subsequent show of support for Newtown was inspiring. “We are so blessed to live in a town with such great people and have so many people who are so supportive.”