1,000 Ben's Bells on their way to Newtown, thanks to community's help
In the days following the Sandy Hook shooting, directors of Tucson-based Ben's Bells called on the community for help. Little did they know, their grassroots effort would grow sky high. Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Maggie Vespa, Web Producer: Laura Kittell
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Few communities know what the people of Newtown are going through, and January 8th, 2011 turned Tucson into one of them.
You may remember in the days following the Sandy Hook shooting, directors of Tucson-based Ben's Bells called on the community for help.
The goal? To collect 1,000 bells and take them to Newtown, where they would serve as symbols of hope and kindness.
Little did they know, their grassroots efforts would grow sky high.
After ten years spent spreading the message of kindness, Jeannette Mare is still shocked at the kindness of strangers.
"People came out like crazy ever since we made the announcement," she said.
People that made possible these big boxes filled to the brim with 1,000 Ben's Bells, which will hang in ,ewtown as a much needed symbol of hope.
"I can never imagine what it will be. I really can't, and that's sort of the beauty of it. It just takes on its own life based on the people that come forward."
And as it turns out, that overwhelming effort is only the beginning, of a bizarre, benevolent domino effect.
"This woman Laurel was already scheduled to be on the show."
Gina Murphy-Darling is perhaps better known as "Mrs. Green."
Upon hearing of the shooting at Sandyhook, and Mare's mission, the Tucson-based talk show host took a recently formed corporate connection and ran with it.
"Kelly called Jeannette and said 'we have a contact with Southwest Airlines. Maybe we can get you back there because they need Ben's Bells.'"
Within days more than half a dozen seats were opened up by the airline, all free of charge.
And the donations didn't stop there.
"UPS is helping us with shipping," said Mare. "You know, CP graphics has helped us with printing. We've had all these amazing people come forward."
Translation? This Newtown trip, in large part, is taken care of.
So now the bells are off. Mare and her team are soon to follow.
They'll hang the tiny trinkets on Tucson's own day of mourning: January 8th.
A symbol, say both women, of the worst of mankind bringing out the best of humanity.
"You want to know that people in the world care about what happened in your community, how it was violated," said Murphy-Darling.
"These tragedies are what bring it out in people, but people really understand kindness at a different level,"said Mare. "They understand kindness is not a soft issue, that it's not a fluffy thing, that it's not a weakness. That kindness is, bottom line, the most important thing that there is."
Another facet of the Ben's Bells routine are their kind notes.
Staff members there tell 9OYS, volunteers have written hundreds, if not thousands, to residents in Newtown.
Those will be attached to the bells.