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Singers and musicians perform "Amazing Grace"

Prayers, messages of hopes, and money were sent to the families of the 26 victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School from the Somerset-Pulaski County community hundreds of miles away to its northern neighbors in Newtown, Conn.

Community leaders, elected officials, and local school administrators gathered at The Center for Rural Development on Jan. 3 to show their support for the families of the victims at a “Love to Sandy Hook” prayer vigil and fundraiser.

The event was held on the same day students from Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to classes for the first time nearly three weeks after the fatal school shooting.

High Street Baptist Church pastor Ed Amundson, who helped coordinate the program, said his first reaction to hearing the news was to hug his three children.

“I thought about all those parents who couldn’t give their children a hug that day,” he said at the prayer vigil and fundraiser. “My heart and prayers go out to the families of the victims.”

Money donated and personal messages written on index cards from well-wishers at the conclusion of the event will be hand-delivered to Newtown.

Nationally, a little more than $1 million already has been raised for the victims’ families. The goal is to raise $2.6 million by the end of January.

Donations are still being accepted locally at the Somerset branch of First Southern Bank, located at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Ky. 80, in care of “Love to Sandy Hook.”

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