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Remembering Newtown: Maddie’s Playground

I love being a legislator for so many, many reasons: being able to secure the health, safety and welfare of my constituents to the best of my ability; being able to draft laws which have benefits for the people I represent; and every day meeting the most wonderful, giving people and having the opportunity to work with them to make miracles happen.

About two weeks ago just such an incident happened and I would like to share this with you…

I was contacted by a gentleman who moved from Woodbury, but whose family still lives in Woodbury, inquiring about possible donations to help make a dream become a reality.

The family suffered an overwhelming loss during the Sandy Hook school incident in Newtown, CT. Their beautiful family member Madeleine was one of those who passed.

The church pastor, Rev. A. Erik Rasmussen and church committee is dedicating their current playground at the United Methodist Church in Woodbury in the child’s memory.

The family has named it “Maddie’s Playground.” The playground dedication will follow the UMC Church service on July 6 at 10:30 a.m.

Whenever the family visited their Great Grand Aunt “Mrs. Dorothy McGough” who is a church member, the child would play at the church during family events and she was always happy and had a beautiful smile.

The gentleman contacted me because the church is very close to where I live. Some financial assistance for this project has been provided by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation Community Fund; additional funding received towards the playground from the Sandy Hook Special Revenue Fund. He wanted to know if I would be willing to assist in efforts to secure additional purple flowers and daisies which this child adored and anything else I could think of to help this dream bloom.

The story touched my heart and soul and of course I responded that I would do whatever I possibly could. I thought of writing to various landscaping firms in our area and farms; contacting the Scouts, both girls and boys, to help when the actual playground is being reworked or if they wanted to create a Boy Scouts project to make some needed wood benches, and if the Girl Scouts would like to create decorative outdoor flower garden sticks and ornaments; and felt that I would reach out to our wonderful community to ask for donations for this loving effort.

Please realize that out of respect for the family and what they have already endured, I am not mentioning all names but I have verified the fact that the story is real. The family would prefer to receive items such as new playground safe flooring, perennial flowers, weed tarp, garden mulch, etc.

They mentioned a living Christmas tree to plant to have a holiday tree all year round, because the incident occurred before the Christmas holiday on Dec. 14, 2012. The family feels that many of the needed additional items mentioned might be unattainable and ask for help because of the cost associated and hope to receive some donations. The family is planning this project to honor Madeleine’s beautiful spirit, and in accordance with the Sandy Hook Promise foundation’s beliefs promising to honor victims and turning tragedy into a moment of transformation, and to bring happiness to others and community.

For information about the Sandy Hook Promise’s mission go to: www2.sandyhookpromise.org/mission.

If people prefer to give a check to support the ongoing maintenance of the playground, the family would graciously accept any donation amount made payable to the “Woodbury UMC.” The mailing address is: 577 Woodbury Rd., Woodbury, NY 11797. Every dollar donated would help purchase flowers, landscaping supplies, and go to the perpetual care of the play area and garden.

Leg. Judith Jacobs