Carol Ackerman was at her Collinsville shop when she heard of the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School, just three and a half miles from her home.
“I was in disbelief,” she said. “I really was.”
Later that morning someone called Carol and Company and told Ackerman about the high death toll, including so many children. She couldn't process the information.
“I said 'no' and looked online,” she said. “They’re always so far away and now it’s in my neighborhood,” she said, adding that it was difficult to sleep this weekend.
“You wake up and it’s all you think about,” she said.
Ackerman also had a former neighbor with ties to Columbine and a family friend who had a child who attended Virginia Tech, the location of two of the other most notorious school shootings.
“We you have three or four people in your circle, it’s happening too often,” she said.
It’s also been surreal seeing news anchors on national networks on television and then driving by but mostly she hopes the town and victims can find some peace.
She doesn't know any of the families who lost loved ones, but Newtown is a very tight-knit community, Ackerman said.
“All I hope is the families are able to heal,” she said.
Ackerman said she feels one way people can help her town is through support for Newtown Youth and Family Services, a long-time organization in town that is providing counseling walk-in counseling for those affected by the tragedy.
Across the street from Ackerman, another Collinsville business is using a Newtown connection to lend support.
On Dec. 29, LaSalle Market and Deli will donate proceeds from its Give Back Series of concerts to the family of one of the shooting victims.
Front-of-the-house manager Jessie Kaminski said she and her mother, LaSalle owner Eileen O’Connor Kaminski, had been discussing ways to help when a customer brought in a letter seeking help for the family.
The show, featuring "Another Road," will take place Saturday, Dec. 29 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.