Newtown mementos incinerated to make bricks for memorial

Newtown mementos incinerated to make bricks for memorial
Mike M. Ahlers/CNN
Friday, December 27, 2013 - 10:29pm

(CNN) -- After the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, hundreds of thousands of cards, letters, drawings, stuffed animals and other sentimental items poured into Newtown from throughout the world in a show of support.

Newtown resident Yolie Moreno said Friday that she plans a unique way to turn those sentiments into the actual building blocks of a future memorial.

Moreno started an initiative called Embracing Newtown which will make use of the massive amounts of material that turned up starting in January at the town's municipal center. She wanted to ensure that well wishes were preserved.

Moreno enlisted the help of more than 100 volunteers to sort through the piles of mementos. The items were incinerated, with the ashes, or what Moreno called "sacred soil," to be used in the making of bricks to serve as the foundation of a future memorial honoring the 26 who lost their lives.

The incarceration occurred in garbage facility that allowed volunteers to be present, Moreno said.

"Every single thing was [incinerated] to make sure it was not thrown away," she said. "I'm talking the tags from every teddy bear. Nothing ended up in a landfill."

Four tractor-trailer cargo containers hold the incinerated mementos, Moreno said.

Moreno described the process as energy being transformed into a testament to the love and goodness of the people who reached out to Newtown in so many ways.

The kindness of strangers was also documented on the website, where galleries of the artwork and letters can be viewed as well as at Newtown's Library. The letters that appear on the website have also been archived, according to Moreno.

"You will be in my dreams tonight," says the writing on one drawing on, with a list of the names of 26 who were killed on December 14, 2012 and the image of a sleeping child.

Another letter states, "Not one kid will be forgotten."

"The letters were for students as they're processing this through their life," she said. "They'll see these inspirational letters and that people really care. That's my goal."

The letters came from every state as well as dozens of countries.

"This was never about me," Moreno said. "This is about what happened to Sandy Hook. This was just an important thing to do. "

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