NEWTOWN, Conn. -- They ate turkey soup, deviled eggs, beef barbecue, pizza and homemade cakes and listened to jokes.
Nine members of St. John‚??s United Church of Christ near Drums traveled to Newtown, Conn., on Sunday to provide lunch to first responders of the Dec. 14 tragedy that resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Shannon Hicks, a volunteer with the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company, said ‚??everyone had full bellies, big smiles and lots of hugs.‚?Ě Hicks also works for the Newtown Bee newspaper.
‚??This was a wonderful offering, and we have enough food to feed a small army for a few days,‚?Ě Hicks said. ‚??They brought buckets -- literally, 5-gallon buckets -- filled with some pretty amazing turkey soup, and small buckets with barbecue. There were boxes filled with an amazing pizza that is meant to be served cold, made by a bakery down in your neck of the woods - also fabulous. Deviled eggs by the dozen, fantastic bread, homemade chocolate cake, homemade lemon cake, mini muffins, cookies, and someone made sourdough pretzels dipped in milk chocolate.‚?Ě
Sandra Morris and her husband, the Rev. Thom Morris, said the trip went well. She said there were about 40 people at the luncheon held in the fire house. The pizza was from Senape‚??s in Hazleton and Morris said the group brought some Farmers‚?? Ice Tea.
‚??They were very appreciative,‚?Ě Morris said of the Sandy Hook personnel. ‚??They are regular people, but what they saw that day had to be difficult. We wanted to show them we care about them and what they do every day.‚?Ě
Terrie Griffith, the church member who came up with the idea of making the trip to Newtown, said she watched the coverage of the Sandy Hook shooting and felt the responders needed some recognition ‚?? to be thanked for what they do.
Morris said the church members met with a lot of the firefighters, police and ambulance personnel and they visited a memorial in town dedicated to the 26 people who died in the mass shooting. She said Fire Chief Bill Halstead thanked the group for their visit and said all of the first responders are appreciative of everything groups like the one from Drums continue to do for the first responders.
‚??One of our members told some jokes and got them to laugh,‚?Ě Morris said. ‚??That‚??s why we went there ‚?? to ease their pain a little.‚?Ě
She said the group might return to Newtown for the annual Lobster Fest in June. She said they made a lot of friends.
Many of the first responders have had to seek counseling since the shootings. Hicks said the fire company has received thousands of letters, but personal visits have been a bit rarer.
‚??It‚??s heartwarming ‚?? absolutely heartwarming -- when groups like this show up here,‚?Ě Hicks said. ‚??Bob Virgalla, a member of the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, told me, ‚??We had good food and great fellowship.‚?? That‚??s exactly what this was about.‚?Ě
Hicks noted the St. John‚??s group had to reschedule its trip due to scheduling conflicts with the Sandy Hook volunteers.
‚??They didn‚??t give up on us,‚?Ě Hicks said. ‚??We had to reschedule, and even though it was Sunday, they said would be here just to make strangers feel better ‚?? and it did.‚?Ě
Hicks said every gesture from the public is greatly appreciated by the fire, police and rescue personnel.
‚??And the St. John‚??s group not only made the food, re-heated it and served it, but they brought the cutlery, plates and they cleaned up,‚?Ě Hicks said. ‚??There were classy. They left nothing out of place.‚?Ě
Hicks said the 26th annual Lobster Fest is scheduled for June 7-8 ‚?? two nights of full lobster dinners or steak or surf and turf and includes Manhattan clam chowder, corn on the cob, potato salad and more. It‚??s a major fundraising event for the fire company, she said.
Morris said the roads were clear to travel, the sun was shining and the people were great.
‚??And I think the good Lord was helping us every step of the way,‚?Ě she said. ‚??It gave us all a really nice feeling to do this.‚?Ě