A Woodridge subdivision will shine bright on Christmas Eve to both remember the Newtown, Conn., shooting victims and support a grieving neighbor with ties to Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Residents of Seven Bridges will light luminarias in their driveways at 5 p.m. Monday, with some planning to light a candle for each victim.
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While the idea is to honor the children and teachers who lost their lives, residents say they also want to show support for their newest neighbors, a family who moved from Newtown to Woodridge in August.
The family asked not to be named, but their children attended Sandy Hook and the mother was previously a first-grade volunteer there.
David Dornbos, a Realtor and Seven Bridges resident, said few people were immediately aware of the family's connection to the tragedy.
"I listed the house they purchased and I remembered months ago seeing 'Connecticut' on the contract, but I didn't remember the town," he said. "I saw my neighbor last week and asked how she was doing, and I could see by her reaction she not doing as well as we all hoped. I asked where she was from, she said Newtown. Then she shared her idea of putting luminarias in her driveway and asking the few people she'd met so far to join her."
Dornbos and others who learned of the idea wanted to get involved. Even residents who haven't met their new neighbor want to join in the effort for the sake of community and respect, Dornbos said.
Families from Meadow Glens Elementary School in Naperville, where Seven Bridges children attend classes, also are joining the effort, and notices of the luminaria effort are spreading across Facebook and email.
Neighbors are still welcome to light up their driveways.
"The goal is when you drive through our subdivision on Christmas Eve, it will be completely lit," Dornbos said. "I think the reality is this tragedy has hit this country in a unique way. People realize it could have been here, it could have been our kids. We want to show we live in a subdivision that is willing to embrace and support everyone."