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Article updated: 12/30/2012 4:37 PM

What to do for Newtown? Three local organizations could use your support

By Melissa Silverberg

While Newtown, Conn., focuses on mourning and healing from the deadly school shooting that killed 20 children and six adults earlier this month, the rest of the country, including the Chicago suburbs, are trying to reach out. Here are three local organizations that could use your help in helping Newtown recover.

Support the dogs

K9 Comfort Dogs, a group with Lutheran Church Charities based in Addison, has brought a group of trained golden retrievers to Newtown to spend time with residents, cheer them up and provide some healing hugs and kisses.

"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, who is in Connecticut with her golden retriever, Ruthie.

The dogs do not approach people, but let people come to them. They have proved to be enormously popular and comforting, and the dogs went viral last week on Buzzfeed with lots of shots of the four-legged creatures on the job.

A website raising money for the dogs' travel -- not just to Newtown, but anywhere they are needed -- had already raised more than 10 times its goal as of last week. Donate at http://www.razoo.com/story/Lcc-K-9-Comfort-Dogs-Visit-To-Connecticut.

Helping the families

Students in the Prospect High School Service Club are collecting money for the United Way's Sandy Hook School Support Fund. The money collected will be sent to Newtown Savings Bank.

"People want to do something but don't really know how to go about it," said Dave Jacobson, the school's learning service coordinator. He said the students came up with the idea for the collection.

Checks can be made payable to "Sandy Hook School Support Fund" and dropped off or mailed to the school, at 801 W. Kensington Road in Mount Prospect.

The money will be used for support services for family and community members, according to the United Way.

Say it with comics

Reading with Pictures, a Chicago area nonprofit, will donate age-appropriate, nonviolent comic books to kids in Newtown, said Tim Sarrantonio, vice president of the group.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Russell Lissau, a comic book author, helped come up with the idea to donate and he'll be giving his own work to the cause as well.

Organizers said it's an educational way for families to get away from the nonstop tragic news on TV and spend time together.

"We want that moment of children reading and parents working through the stories with their kids," Sarrantonio said. "It's a special time for them and if it's going to even provide five minutes of a safe space, that's what we want to do."

People can donate comic books of their own, or donate money that Reading with Pictures will use to buy them. Email to info@readingwithpictures.org for details.

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