Thursday marks the five-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
On Dec. 14, 2012, the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, claimed the lives of 20 children and six faculty members. To honor the lives of those who were killed, victims’ loved ones have since shared beautiful tributes and set up scholarship programs, nonprofit organizations and more.
We’ve rounded up various places you can donate or volunteer to aid these efforts and to keep the spirits of these children and educators alive.
Courtesy of Alissa Parker
Six-year-old Emilie Parker loved art, reading and cheering people up when they were sad. After her death, her parents set up the Emilie Parker Art Connection
to help fund arts programs in communities and schools. Emilie's mom, Alissa, also co-founded Safe and Sound Schools
to help make schools more secure for children and educators.
Via What Would Daniel Do
Daniel Barden, 7, was filled with kindness and compassion for others. His family members launched an initiative called What Would Daniel Do
to inspire others to show kindness and empathy and build a sense of community. Daniel's father, Mark, co-founded Sandy Hook Promise
, a nonprofit that aims to prevent gun violence.
Via the Allison Wyatt Memorial Fund
Six-year-old Allison Wyatt loved to draw and to laugh. Her family set up the Allison Wyatt Memorial Fund
to support charitable organizations in her name. They've made donations to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities and the International Child Art Foundation.
Via The Ana Grace Project
Ana Grace Márquez-Greene was a 6-year-old girl with a passion for music and worship. Her mother, Nelba, founded The Ana Grace Project
, which is dedicated to "promoting love, community and connection for every child and family through three lead initiatives: partner schools, professional development, and music & arts."
Although 7-year-old Josephine "Joey" Gay was non-verbal, she communicated with her "her eyes, her gentle hugs, her sweet spirit, and her little hands." She loved playing games with her sisters and watching movies. Her family created Joey's Fund Family Grant Program
, which offers grants to enrich the lives of individuals with autism. Joey's mom, Michele, also co-founded Safe and Sound Schools
with Alissa Parker.
Via The Avielle Foundation
Six-year-old Avielle Richman had an exuberant personality and loved stories. Her parents started The Avielle Foundation
to prevent violence and foster compassion through education, community engagement and research into brain health.
Via the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement
Jesse Lewis was always larger than life. The 6-year-old reportedly showed tremendous courage during the last moments of his life when he yelled to his classmates to run for their lives during a brief pause in the shooting. Jesse's mom, Scarlett, founded the the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement
to empower children by instilling in them the values of courage, gratitude, forgiveness and compassion.
Via the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund, Inc.
Being an educator was Victoria Soto's dream. The 27-year-old was living out that dream as a first-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Her family set up the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund
to support educational initiatives such as scholarships and literacy efforts.
Courtesy of Rebecca Kowalski
Chase Kowalski, 7, could be shy, but gained confidence through his love of swimming, biking and running. His parents started the CMAK Foundation
to promote physical health and wellness among kids and strengthen communities in the process.
Via Dylan's Wings of Change
Dylan Hockley, 6, loved to cuddle and adored his big brother. His parents established Dylan’s Wings of Change
, a foundation dedicated to supporting kids with autism and related conditions. Dylan's mother, Nicole, also co-founded Sandy Hook Promise
Via The Jessica Rekos Foundation
Jessica Rekos, 6, loved horseback riding, orca whales, one-liners and her little brothers. The Jessica Rekos Foundation
helps fund school security efforts, orca whale research and conservation, and horseback riding lessons for kids from lower-income backgrounds.
Via the Caroline Previdi Foundation
Caroline Previdi was enthusiastic about all of her activities and was compassionate toward others. To honor the 6-year-old, her family created the Caroline Previdi Foundation
, which covers the costs of extracurricular activities like music, art and sports for kids whose families don't have the means to pay.
Via KIDS in the GAME
Jack Pinto, 6, had an infectious smile and a love for sports. To celebrate his life, his family partnered with KIDS in the GAME
, a nonprofit that offers underprivileged children the resources they need to participate in team sports. They encourage others to donate in his honor.
Via Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
Via The Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation
Six-year-old Charlotte Bacon was a free spirit who loved animals and the color pink. Her family created The Charlotte Helen Bacon Foundation
to support and develop programs, scholarships and initiatives in line with her spirit and passions. These include a therapy dog program, a veterinary student scholarship, bereavement and grief research, and more. They've also released books
in Charlotte's memory.
Via Lauren Rousseau Elementary Education Memorial Scholarship
Lauren Rousseau was a substitute teacher who had always dreamed of being an educator. The 30-year-old loved her cat, Layla. Her alma mater, the University of Bridgeport School of Education, offers the Lauren Rousseau Elementary Education Memorial Scholarship
for students pursuing certification in elementary education.
Via Remembering Noah Samuel Pozner
was an energetic 6-year-old who loved Legos, playgrounds and superheroes. His best friend was his twin sister, Arielle. His family directed donations to The Honr Network
Via Mary's Fund
School psychologist Mary Sherlach, 56, was devoted to helping children. On the day of the shooting, she reportedly lunged toward the gunman in an effort to stop him. Loved ones set up Mary's Fund
to further her mission of offering mental health services to kids and teens. Mary's husband, Bill, is also on the board of Sandy Hook Promise
Via Ben's Lighthouse
Six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler dreamed of being an architect, a paleontologist and a lighthouse keeper. Members of his church community set up Ben's Lighthouse
to establish programs that would "empower young people to develop the self-awareness, empathy and social connections they need to find and share their own light."
Via Grace Audrey McDonnell Obituary
Grace Audrey McDonnell, 7, enjoyed art, baking, running and spending time with her family. To honor her life, her family pledged to support young artists and art programs for kids and directed donations to the Grace Memorial Fund
at the Fairfield County's Community Foundation.
Via Friends of Olivia Engel
Via Dawn Hochsprung Memorial
Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47, reportedly died while rushing toward the gunman to protect the school. The devoted educator, wife, mother and grandmother enjoyed outdoor activities like sailing and snowshoeing. The Connecticut Federation of School Administration set up the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Education Scholarship Program
to honor her love of learning.
Via Annual James Mattioli 5k
James Mattioli was an energetic 6-year-old who loved being outside. His family created a scholarship fund for high school students planning to go to college and hosts an annual 5K race
to help fund this initiative.
Via Madeleine Hsu Memorial
"You loved to run ahead to the next big adventure. Always running ... never walking but sometimes dancing, skipping and hopping to whatever you were going to do next," Madeleine Hsu's family wrote of the 6-year-old girl
. Following her death, they directed donations
to the Madeleine Hsu Memorial Fund, c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 26 Church Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470.
Via Team Rachel Marie D'Avino
Rachel D'Avino was a behavioral therapist whose mission was to help children and adults with autism. The 29-year-old enjoyed karate, photography, cooking and baking. Her boyfriend was planning to propose to her on Christmas Eve. To honor Rachel's legacy
, loved ones have raised money for Autism Speaks
Timothy A. Clary via Getty Images
Anne Marie Murphy was a 52-year-old special education teacher who reportedly died cradling her beloved student Dylan Hockley. Her family requested privacy following her death and encouraged people to donate to Autism Speaks