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Local memorials, vigil planned for Conn. victims

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, DeKalb County residents have begun honoring the victims, including through a vigil planned for Friday in DeKalb.

Moxie, 230 E. Lincoln Highway in DeKalb, is collecting angel ornaments to honor the victims of Friday’s shooting in Newtown, Conn. The “Angels for Sandy Hook” initiative started after DeKalb resident Mary Hess made the suggestion to the store’s manager.

As a mother of three, Hess said she empathizes with the families who lost a child in the shooting.

Twenty children were killed Friday when a gunman entered the school and opened fire.

“One of my sons is 6 years old. I’m just mortified by what happened and can’t even imagine how I would cope with a tragedy,” Hess said. “I feel horrible for the people who have been affected by this.”

People can donate an ornament depicting an angel at Moxie so it can hang on a tree in the store. After Jan. 1, the ornaments will be donated to victims’ families in Newtown, Hess said.

Hess said her friend went to elementary school at Sandy Hook and is coordinating the logistics.

Sycamore resident Bridgett Kedzie is doing something similar. Her family displayed 26 Popsicle ornaments on a Christmas tree outside their home at 1115 Rose Drive. She has invited others to put an ornament on the tree, or to simply pray outside it.

“I felt like we needed to show we care,” Kedzie said. “It’s not just their town affected by the tragedy.”

A community candlelight vigil will be Friday at Memorial Park on the corner of North First Street and West Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

The vigil, which starts at 5 p.m., will feature speakers including Jim Briscoe, superintendent of DeKalb School District 428; DeKalb County Clerk John Acardo; state Rep. Robert Pritchard, R-Hinckley, and local clergy.

Dan Kenney, a DeKalb school teacher and organizer of the event, said the vigil is a way to bring together a community that has experienced its own mass shooting and show support for those affected by the Newtown tragedy.

“We have a sense of what people are going through ... there is a restimulated pain,” Kenney said. “I think it’s very important for the community to be able to show their caring for the folks in Newtown and what they are going through.”

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own candles.

Kenney also is planning a community potluck and forum for Jan. 18 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb.

The forum, titled “Learning to Live Peaceably,” could feature a panel including DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack, DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery and Northern Illinois University professors who will discuss ending gun violence.

“We need to acknowledge the pain and the grief, but we also need to take it a step further and talk about what action can we take as a community to prevent violent acts like this in the future,” he said.

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