The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play ~ Honoring the 26 Victims of the Newtown, CT Shootings

Thursday, December 5, 2013
Almost 365 days ago, a madman opened fire on innocent children, administrators, and teachers at a school in bucolic Newtown, Connecticut. I can remember running out to do an errand that morning and coming home to the horrific news on TV.

20 first graders and 6 adult staff members were killed that morning. It was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history.

As a result of the shootings, gun control debates have been waged, parents have debated the safety of their children's schools, and schools have beefed up security measures in an effort to prevent future attacks.

But what could be done to memorialize the innocent victims of such senseless killings?

One group, the foundation that created The Sandy Ground: Where Angels Play stepped up to the challenge. The Sandy Ground began by building playgrounds for children who lost their favorite places to play during Hurricane Katrina.

Last fall when Hurricane Sandy struck the coastal areas of New York and New Jersey, the foundation once again set out to raise money to replace playgrounds that were destroyed by Sandy.

Today, the foundation has a goal of building 26 playgrounds, one to honor each victim of the Newtown, CT shootings and to breathe life back into communities devastated by Sandy. The foundation in conjunction with local communities and the help of volunteers has completed construction on 13 playgrounds along the coasts of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.

This video tells the inspiring story behind The Sandy Ground.

It's easy to feel helpless at times like these, but there are ways you can help. For information on any of the below initiatives, visit

  • Volunteer at one of the playground sites.
  • Make a monetary donation.
  • Support the Sandy Store (a gold bell holiday ornament is available for purchase for $5).
  • Attend a fundraiser or organize one of your own.
In my neighboring town of Manasquan, Sandy hit hard. She wiped out homes in the coastal community and destroyed the beautiful beach. Thanks to the generosity of volunteers and The Sandy Ground, the beach where we spend our summer days has a new playground in memory of Olivia Engel, one of the 20 first graders who were killed on December 14, 2013 in Newtown.

At the time of the shootings, I was a parent of a first grader. I couldn't help but to identify with the grieving parents of the victims. And at the same time, I couldn't imagine what they were going through.

The playgrounds built by The Sandy Ground are a way for these communities to rebuild and remember.

For more information, you can find The Sandy Ground on the Web and on Facebook.

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