News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012
EVANS, Ga. -- Lakeside grad Ryan Clark was one of the first victims in the Virginia Tech shooting five years ago. So, Ryan's mother knows all too well what it feels like to be a Newtown parent right now.
Now she's using her experience to help honor the families and victims and send a message of hope all the way from Columbia County.
Twenty-six chimes -- one for every victim. And 26 homemade angels for the souls now up in heaven.
"I have asked that angels be placed on our community tree as a gesture to Newtown that not only do we love them and care about them, but we feel their pain," mother Letitie Clark said.
A heart twice broken after Clark's son was killed in the Virginia Tech shooting five years ago.
She says hearing of the Connecticut shooting was like reliving it all over again.
"I can understand, and I feel their pain of what the families will be going through, not just now, but for many years to come," Clark said.
After experiencing her own tragedy, Clark says she knows how important community is.
And now, even 900 miles away, she wants her hometown to support Newtown the way they supported her.
"Distance does not make a difference. I thought that CSRA should be a model for what a community does when such tragedy occurs," Clark said.
Neighbors and friends braved the rain to show their support.
"Coming here in the rain and being together, singing together, is our witness against the darkness," she said.
"As a country we can band together because we're all members of one giant family," supporter Ashlyn Horney said.
As a mother remembers her own angel, she places 26 new ones on the community tree.
"Angels are God's way of giving us light, and I know those 20 children are the brightest light on the Christmas tree this year," Clark said.
If you want to see them for yourself, you can head over to Evans Town Center Park.
The ornaments were handmade by the students at Blue Ridge Elementary School, and they're hanging on the big tree next to the Lady Antebellum Amphitheater.