Bitterroot Valley star ornaments honor Sandy Hook victims

Twenty-seven stars honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre soon will be in place throughout western Montana.

The Ravalli County Prevention Coalition purchased the 27 star ornaments, one for each victim in the Connecticut school shootings, including murderer Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza.

Attached to each of the ornaments hangs a poem and a thank you message.

This weekend, the coalition began distributing the stars to organizations throughout western Montana communities that work with children and families in crisis, and children and youth affected by mental illness.

Ravalli County Prevention Coalition Director Charmell Owens said, “We wanted to do something special for those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook.”

She said the coalition also wanted to thank organizations that work with children and youth.

Owens said that not all the organizations are focused on mental health, but they do target children and youth in need, crisis and addiction to drugs or alcohol.

The coalition decided the project would both allow them to thank organizations and honor the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Owens said she has seen random acts of kindness in the news throughout the United States by individuals who wanted to express their feelings about the loss of the children and teachers.

She said that many purchased Christmas presents for families or bought coffee for the person behind them in line at a shop.

Each star distributed by the coalition is different, with various colors and sparkles with the child’s name on them. The ornament also has a letter thanking the organizations for addressing the needs of children and youth in their community.

The following organizations received a star ornament in honor of Sandy Hook: Mariah’s Challenge, Ryan United, Selkirk Coaching and Training Group, West House, Emma’s House, Ravalli County Youth Court, Hamilton Police Department, Ravalli County Sheriff’s Department, Montana Highway Patrol, Ravalli Suicide Prevention Alliance, Ravalli Youth Homes, WestHouse, Missoula Sheriff’s Department – I.C.A.C. Task Force, Ravalli County DUI Task Force, Missoula DUI Task Force, Missoula Underage Substance Abuse Program, B.E.A.R., Rhonda Eickholt F.N.P., Ravalli County – Department of Family Services, S.A.F.E., Marcus Daly Hospital Social Work Department, N.A.M.I. of Montana, Ravalli County Dispatchers, Missoula County Dispatchers, Riverfront Mental Health Center, Full Circle Counseling Services and Watkins Children’s Shelter.

Owens and Sharon Parliman, administrative assistant worked together in producing the ornaments to send the western Montana organizations.

Hannah Honey