An Tewksbury resident is spearheading an effort to deliver backpacks filled to school supplies to the displaced students of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Suzanne Countie, an office manager with Merrimack Family Practice, said the goal is to gather 650 backpacks, each filled with school supplies.
"These kids had to leave all of their school stuff behind," said Countie. The school has remained an active crime scene since 26 people, including 20 children, were killed by a gunman last week. Civilians have not been allowed back inside.
Countie said she is asking Tewksbury residents to donate backpacks and, if possible, fill them with elementary supplies. She plans to lead a caravan of vehicles, driven by family and friends, to deliver the backpacks on Friday, Dec. 28.
"This is just families helping out families," said Countie. "We know this is a hard time, around Christmas, and people don't have a lot. But really, anything people can do is great. Even if it's just a pack of crayons."
Countie said she hasn't approached any of the local discount giants to ask them to take care of the entire donation because she is hoping this will be a grassroots, community effort.
"We've got about 100 backpacks right now and that's just been through the first 24 hours," she said.
Dr. Frank Osborne, medical director for Merrimack Family Medicine, is allowing the practice to be used as a drop-off spot for donations.
Backpacks and supplies can be dropped off at the practice, located at 600 Clark Road, adjacent to the Market Basket at Stadium Plaza. Drop off times are Friday, Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday, Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information on the backpack/school supply drive for Newtown can contact Suzanne Countie at 978-851-4141.