At VolunteerSquare we choose to take a moment on the 14th of every month to remember the victims of Sandy Hook by sharing a story of individuals or groups giving back to the community. Today, we are proud to share a story about one incredible response to the tragedy that focuses solely on helping support the next generation of educators.
Meet Kyle Lyddy. Lyddy is the force behind a huge initiative called We Are Newtown. Lyddy, a lifelong Newtown resident, was deeply affected by the Sandy Hook shooting and decided to do something about it.
“After December 14th, we had to bring our town together somehow,” said Lyddy. “We couldn’t think of a more meaningful way to honor those lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School than to support those who want to be in the classroom teaching young people.”
With help from Lyddy’s employer, Newtown-based marketing firm Amplitude Marketing Group, Lyddy was able to launch a major fundraising initiative to help provide scholarships for Newtown students to pursue a career in education through the nonprofit Newtown Scholarship Association.
The primary component of that fundraising campaign was the sale of now-signature black, white and green t-shirts emblazoned with the simple, but powerful, phrase “We Are Newtown.” Lyddy tells us Amplitude’s owner even printed up 8,000 shirts for Newtown students and teachers free-of-charge.
“Newtown is home to me. It always will be,” said Lyddy. “It was essential for all of us to do our small part and provide each other with some comfort. I was certain we could move forward if we banded together.”
Lyddy said it started out very “grassroots” with t-shirts being sold across Newtown. But, he says, that quickly changed and soon t-shirts were being sold in every state in the country and online. He says to date they have raised more than $200,000 for their scholarship fund.
This year, the group awarded four $6,500 scholarships to Newtown graduates pursuing a career in teaching or education. Lyddy said they will continue to distribute the $26,000 annually as long as they can.
“It's been a very humbling experience yet one that truly shows the force of We Are Newtown. Everyone came together,” said Lyddy. “We had hundreds of volunteers help over the past nine months selling shirts, working together and being positive. It was humanity at its best.”
When asked about what’s next, Lyddy says it’s simple: keep the positivity going. He says they hope to continue to raise money to support the scholarship and to use social media and other tools to inspire the community.
“I've never been prouder to say I'm from Newtown.”
And we’re proud to be your neighbor, Kyle! Awesome work!
You can learn more about We Are Newtown on their site and on their Facebook page. If you know an individual or group giving back to the community please be sure to let us know so we can share their story next month.