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posted: 12/19/2012 5:00 AM

Editorial: Reach out to help in any way possible

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The Daily Herald Editorial Board

With the funerals beginning for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn., the sadness there and across the country is palpable. But in the aftermath of such a horrific tragedy, it is helpful to be reminded of the good in the world; of how you can help and how others are doing their part to bring smiles to the faces of those dealing with loss or heartache, especially to the faces of children.

As Daily Herald staff writer Jamie Sotonoff wrote Tuesday, there are many right here in the suburbs who are doing their part and we want to acknowledge their good deeds.

For example, more than a dozen suburban dog handlers from Lutheran Church Charities' Comfort Dog Ministries, based in Addison, have gone to Newtown to visit with community members in need. "The dogs were a comfort to (the children) and their parents. Smiles came on their faces for the first time. It just brought them some joy," said Dona Martin of Lake Barrington

That description should bring joy to all of us. Another group of dog handlers from La Fox also are on their way to do what they can to ease the pain.

Prospect High School's Service Club is collecting money for the United Way's Sandy Hook School Support Fund. Checks can be sent to or dropped off at the school at 801 W. Kensington Road in Mount Prospect.

Other groups are sending teddy bears and comic books, all in an effort to help the children of Newtown.

In this season of giving, helping children in need is most welcome. That's why we at the Daily Herald are proud of our subscribers who have given so generously to our Hope for the Holidays drive to benefit Wings, the Palatine-based agency that provides emergency shelter, temporary housing, education, employment assistance and counseling for homeless and abused women and children. Sparked by 90-year-old Walt Meder of Arlington Heights, who donated the first $1,000, the drive as of last week had raised $18,000 and checks are still being tallied.

"People are pretty good if they just get the chance," Meder said.

Indeed. And while giving money or your time is certainly welcome and beneficial when someone is in need, that isn't possible for everyone. And it isn't all you can do.

A simple kindness, a quick note to let someone hurting know you care is just as powerful.

That's the message the fathers of two college students killed by a gunman at Northern Illinois University in 2008 told Sotonoff this week.

"Whatever I received, a card, a letter, a book ... it helped because I knew my child was being remembered," said Gary Parmenter of Westchester, whose son Dan was killed. He and Joe Dubowski, another NIU parent, plan to reach out to the families of victims of Newtown.

You too can reach out in ways large and small to remember those 20 children and six adults. It helps them and you.

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