HLN Reports: As the nation tries to make sense of the Sandy Hook shootings, people are turning their grief into good will. #26Acts, an online pledge to perform acts of kindness that pay tribute to each victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, has inspired people to find the joy in small, everyday deeds that bring happiness to others.
The project has gotten such an overwhelming response, it's hard to keep up with all of the wonderful things people are doing. But we will try! Consider this your kindness log. We'll update with all of the tidbits of heartwarming news we can find. If you've done an act of kindness in honor of Sandy Hook, or know someone who has, drop a line in the comments, upload it to CNN iReport or come talk to us at Facebook.com/HLN.
(Updated 9:30 am ET, 12/21)
At 9:30am this morning, people across the country observed a moment of silence (both actual and virtual). Bells rang. The sounds of Amazing Grace played on our network over images of those lost in Newtown. For a moment, the world paused to remember.
A Sheriff's Office deputy got this sweet handwritten note from a girl at Mango Elementary in Seffner, Florida. It reads, in adorable little people print, "Dear officers, thank you for making my school safe. Merry Christmas."
Are you familiar with the legend of the paper cranes? According to Japanese tradition, folding 1,000 origami cranes is a labor of love and will help a wish come true. Origami Salami, and their project "Folding for Good," is orchestrating a worldwide effort to fold a thousand cranes for Sandy Hook. You can find more info on their website. Don't know how to fold? Here's a tutorial.
A young Indiana boy with autism made 500 blue and orange ribbons to share at his school. His mother said he was very worried about the Sandy Hook victims, and wondered if "Santa would have to go to Heaven to take their presents to them." She also said making the ribbons, whose colors represent the sun and the sky, helped him feel better, and he wanted others to feel better too. (Thanks to Tereesa D on Facebook, who sent in this story)
As the only cat rescue in Sandy Hook, CT [Kitten Associates], we're offering up snuggle-time sessions with our foster kittens in a new program called Kitties for Kids; as a way to help the children of Newtown find their smiles again. We're already scheduling visits and can't wait for our first children to arrive! After their visit we'll give them a FREE plush kitty as a reminder of the fun they had and as a token of our appreciation for letting us be a part of this loving community. -- Robin O. on Facebook
George Barnes is a sculptor who also works in TV production. He created this sculpture out of metal pipes. "This sculpture is to honor those beautiful lives lost in Newtown," he told CNN iReport. "A tragedy beyond words or imagination. As a father of 1st and 5th grade girls, it hit me hard- making the individual pieces moved me beyond words. With no plan in mind i created this piece, drove to Newtown and handed it to an usher collecting offerings at St Rose of Lima during mass Sunday. The sculpture was accepted graciously by Father Bob and immediately placed on the altar where it remains today." See more beautiful pics at CNN iReport.
"In my town, the local florist has raised over $1000 and has send, and is sending flowers to the Newton Florist to donate all the flowers they need. We are a really small town, like Newtown. and they have been flooded with donations. Rapoza's Florist & Greenhouse ♥." -- Jennifer L. on Facebook
A father and former staff sergeant in the Marine Corps stood guard outside Gower Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee. He has children at the school and says he is doing it to bring hope and comfort to the students and parents. "We have to live this life for other people," he said. "That's the only way that happiness and true peace and hope will come back to our nation is when we all come back together and love each other."
People are calling into local coffee shops and restaurants around Newtown and picking up the tab for complete strangers. Those who have contributed say you can just give your credit card number and specify how much you want to pay. One woman says because her friend bought 100 cups of coffee at the Newtown General Store, their whole Georgia community is pitching in to help.
When one young victim, Noah Pozner, was buried on Monday, relatives who couldn't attend the funeral wanted to send letters to be buried with the little boy. JetBlue stepped up and delivered the letters just in time. "We're honored to have been able to help the loving family of little Noah," they tweeted.
A pair of sisters who are also teachers have started "Teddy Bears for Newtown," a drive to collect teddy bears to send to the young survivors. After the bears have been collected, the sisters will personally deliver the bears to Newtown from their homes in Lynnfield, Massachusetts.
A petition on Causes.com has served as a National Sympathy Card for Sandy Hook. It has more than 2 million signatures. "We only hope that you receive some measure of comfort in the knowledge that we, and an entire nation, stand with you during this extraordinarily difficult time," it reads.
New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz visited the family of Jack Pinto, one of the young victims. Pinto, who idolized Cruz, was buried in a Cruz replica jersey. In response Cruz wore special cleats over the weekend that read "Jack Pinto, my hero." The NFL, which normally penalizes players who modify their garb, says they won't do a thing. When Cruz visited Newtown, he reportedly spent time with local children and handed out signed jerseys and footballs.
A baker from Iowa traveled to Newtown in a camper full of 240 pies. She has been handing them out to students and parents, as well as providing them for some of the wakes and memorial events for the victims. She is accepting donations to continue her pie kindness, and any extra left over will fund her long trip back to Iowa. "The pioneers made pie; the pilgrims made pie," she says. "It’s about endurance. It’s about nurturing. It’s about simplicity. It’s about nostalgia. And ultimately, for me, it’s about sharing and it’s about giving.”
For their acts of kindness, many people have been sending Christmas cards to the first responders and teachers who acted in bravery during the chaos. Here are the addresses.