Letters to Sandy Hook Elementary

Small tokens of Christmas cheer from hearts thousands of miles away

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - It's a short letter, but Koriyana Brown hopes it will bring a little bit of comfort to families who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary. This Christmas Morning, Instead of receiving gifts, she and her youth group at St. James AME Church in Orange Park prepared to give handwritten gifts for people they've never met.

"It says, 'I am sorry for your loss; I know they were good kids; I pray for your kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School,'" Brown said.

Destoni Higgins says that's what Christmas is about, giving. And in this letter, what she hopes to give is love.

"I wrote my letter because I felt sorry for what happened because it really made no sense for them because they weren't expecting it, for it to happen. So I felt that I should, we should write to them because we should let them know that God has it in his hands," Higgins said. "Those families don't have their kids anymore, so they should feel like they have love from other kids from another part of the nation. To say that we love them also."

St. James AME Church hopes to send dozens of letters to the families affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. This is an idea that all started when Pastor Alesia Ford-Burse just wondered what they could do to help.

Ford-Burse says she knew Christmas would be a difficult time for those families dealing with loss. She believed prayers and letters from the heart could lift their spirits, and help teach the young ones the true meaning of Christmas.

"That's what church is about, it's about giving and helping others it's not about self. And we're trying to teach our children that Christmas is not just about receiving toys, but it's also about and thinking about other people as well," the pastor said.

Ford-Burse says it's also a lesson in life, and in faith. And for those who poured their heart onto these pages, they just have one Christmas wish when the families open their letters.

"They will feel thankful and they will feel happy," she said.

Small tokens of Christmas cheer from hearts thousands of miles away. 

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