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NEWTOWN, Connecticut – "We know that they'll feel loved. They'll feel that somebody actually cares," said Treyvon Smalls, a 15-year-old from a few towns away who arrived at town hall with hundreds of cards and paper snowflakes collected from around the state.
People sharing in Newtown's mourning have brought handmade snowflakes and cards to the town, as residents observe Christmas less than two weeks after a gunman killed 20 children and six educators at an elementary school.
Small empty Christmas stockings with the victims' names on them hang from trees in the neighborhood where the children were shot. On Christmas Eve, residents said they would light luminaries outside their homes in memory of the victims.
Several hundred people attended Christmas Eve services at Trinity Episcopal Church, less than 2 miles from the school. They were greeted by the sounds of a children's choir echoing throughout a sanctuary hall that had its walls decorated with green wreaths adorned with red bows. The church program said flowers were donated in honor of Sandy Hook shooting victims, identified by name or as the "school angels" and "Sandy Hook families."
Pastor Kathie Adams-Shepherd led the congregation in praying "that the joy and consolation of the wonderful counselor might enliven all," especially those families affected by the shootings in Sandy Hook.
Since the shooting, messages have arrived from around the world. People have donated toys, books, money and more. A United Way fund, one of many, has collected $3 million. People have given nearly $500,000 to a memorial scholarship fund at the University of Connecticut. On Christmas Day, police from other towns have agreed to work so Newtown officers can have the time off.
At Washington's National Cathedral, the 20 children who were killed also were remembered. Angels made of paper doilies were used to adorn the altar in the children's chapel. They'll be displayed there through Jan. 6.
In the center of Newtown's Sandy Hook section Monday, a steady stream of residents and out-of-towners snapped pictures, lit candles and dropped off children's gifts at an expansive memorial filled with stuffed animals, poems, flowers, posters and cards.
"All the families who lost those little kids, Christmas will never be the same," said Philippe Poncet, a Newtown resident originally from France. "Everybody across the world is trying to share the tragedy with our community here."