BOISE -- 2,500 miles from Newtown, Connecticut, Idahoans spent the day scrapbooking for the families of students and teachers killed in the recent school shooting.
The Boise non-profit Handy Hands Reflections has made hundreds of scrapbooks for Treasure Valley families who have lost loved ones. The Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy struck a chord with the crafters, and they decided to share their gifts with those families.
"I am a grandparent of a child that age, and it just hit me in the heart. I just had to do something," Handy Hands Reflections Founder and CEO Jacki Kelsch said.
Volunteers began at 11 a.m. working on scrapbooks to send out east. Dozens of volunteers packed into the non-profit's Boise office, and even more people volunteered in another Boise location, in Nampa, and in Weiser.
"It's been really wonderful to get the response," Kelsch said.
Handy Hands Reflections has already made 495 albums for Idahoans who've lost loved ones. On Saturday, the dozens of volunteers upped the total by another 27 albums with the albums personalized for the families of Sandy Hook victims.
"Trying to put a theme together so the parents can come back in and paste the pictures that relate to that," Hamm said.
The organization's president spent the last week researching each victim to find out about their family and hobbies.
"When it first happened, I had my newspaper, I was pulling stuff the next day, and finding out about these kids," Handy Hands Reflections President Norma Chappell said.
Then she planned out each book, with a wall of to-do packets for volunteers.
"I'm working on a page for Charlotte. She's a little girl, 6 years old. She loves zoo animals, and she loves pink," volunteer Machalla Kirby explained as she worked on personalized pages.
Everyone from scrapbooking experts, to even their husbands and boyfriends, worked all day to get every page finished.
"I'm just talking to some of the ladies here and looking at some of the other pages," Trevor Thomas, a volunteer who came with his girlfriend's family, said.
Once the pages are done, the books will be put together and sent to Newtown, each made with sympathy and care for families who lost loved ones too soon.
"These aren't just pages we've put together. This is these children's story. This is their lives. And we want their families to feel that they're not gone. That they're there," Chappell said.
Newtown has asked the public to stop sending gifts (other than gift cards and money) because they've received so much. However, this project was accepted by the community, and the group says the Newtown Fire Department is going to deliver the albums to the families.