Nelba Márquez-Greene’s daughter Ana Grace was one of the victims killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. On Friday, six years after the event, Márquez-Greene marked the tragic event by giving back to families in the New Britain and greater-Hartford area.
“It certainly doesn’t abate the sadness or the tragedy,” said Márquez-Greene, at a memorial and a fundraiser at Central Connecticut State University. Both were held to mark the anniversary of the shootings that left 20 children and six educators dead. “But, it gives you a focus and that’s what we’re here to do today. And I’m not doing this by myself. Look at everybody here gathered.”
Márquez-Greene created an organization named after her daughter called “The Ana Grace Project” that’s now supported by Central Connecticut State University. On Friday, they collected items like food, toys, and toiletries.
Over 200 volunteers showed up – some of them manned the seven sorting stations; others greeted cars pulling up to drop off donated goods. Volunteer Vira Riley was a part of a group of dancing workers and she explained why the group was so cheerful.
“Gratitude,” Riley said. “Everyone wants to be appreciated. This whole thing is called ‘Love Wins’: love wins over all. It’s just the way of the world -- if we had love, everything would be a-okay.”
Márquez-Greene said that the support meant a lot.
“It means the world for the families that we’re working for today. It means the world for me.”
At 9:35 a.m., the activity paused while a bell on campus tolled 26 times in memory of those killed in Newtown.
“Burdens are best carried shared, right?” Márquez-Greene said. “You can pretty much do anything when you have a strong community behind you.”