Ana Grace Project

Community Comes Together for ‘Love Wins' Donation Drive Honoring Life Lost at Sandy Hook

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Car after car stopped by Central Connecticut State University in New Britain Friday to drop off donations for the second-annual “Love Wins Community Drive,” which was held in honor of a little girl who was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of Ana Grace, started the Ana Grace Project in her daughter’s honor and it is active in helping the New Britain community. One of the ways is through what Marquez-Greene calls a “love drive-thru,” which was held just one day before the seventh anniversary of the shooting in Newtown. 

“What I have learned about grief is to give people something to do and what we’ve chosen to do is honor the city of New Britain, Greater New Britain, and our campus and do some purple magic today,” Marquez-Greene said.

Purple magic – as in Ana Grace’s favorite color -- purple.

Marquez-Greene said the donation drive is a good way to channel both sad and joyful energy to help children and families in New Britain.

“There are 1,000 families registered for a toy distribution tomorrow just as precious as mine, and just as precious as yours, so this a good thing to do,” she said.

All morning long, people drove up and made donations, including Jennese Birritteri, a mother of six from New Britain.

She said she connected with Nelba’s story.

“I felt motherhood a little differently after that day and when they leave for school in the morning, it changed how I mother,” Birritteri said, tearing up. ‘Plus I just really appreciate … helping our community, you know, the kids in need and people in New Britain. It means a lot to me.”

Two hundred fifty people donated their time to the donation drive.

“There was no question, I had to be here,” Anahid Khachoyna, a volunteer from West Hartford, said. “I took time off from work. I’ll always take time off. This is an absolute priority for me.” The drive went until noon, but those who could not make it to the drive can make electronic donations. Learn more here.

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