By Steve Zoski, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 18, 2012
As imagery of the Thursday shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. continues to mystify the nation, members of the University community with ties to the town have joined efforts to support the affected community.
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Last Friday, University alum Ryan Kraft, who attended Sandy Hook Elementary in 5th grade and graduated from Newton High School, created an online fundraiser that has raised over $107,000 for the Sandy Hook Parent-Teacher-Student Association as of Tuesday evening.
The fundraiser is hosted on the website Crowdrise, a Michigan-based company whose founders include University alum and Moosejaw founder Robert Wolfe, actor Edward Norton and actress Shauna Robertson.
Wolfe said though donations from his site are usually sent once a month, Crowdrise's partner Networks for Good is plans to expedite funds for this specific cause.
Kraft, a resident of Hermosa Beach, Calif., said he first heard the news from Newtown when he was on his way to work when he was texted by a fellow Michigan alum to “turn on the news.”
Soon, he was flooded by text messages, and read more information online.
“I immediately started this fund withing like twenty minutes of finding out that this had happened, in order to try to pool some financial resources to help these families heal” Kraft said.
Kraft said the first donations came within the first minute after the fundraiser was launched around 1:30 p.m. EST.
The donations have come in from around the country, but Kraft said many of his friends from the University have donated. The University posted a link to the website on its Facebook page yesterday.
Kraft said though he had worked as the shooter's babysitter when he was younger, he had started the fundraiser before he became aware of this.
“I set up the fund twenty minutes after the first news had broken, I had no idea who was responsible, and we already had about five thousand dollars in the fund before Adam was identified as the shooter,” Kraft said.
Kraft added that the Crowdrise founders have been very helpful in promoting the fundraiser. Edward Norton even tweeted it out to his followers.
He added that he hopes the focus will be placed on the victims of the massacre and the Newtown community, not the killer.
“The reason my family moved there was for the quality of the schools and the quality of life, and that's pretty much why anyone would move there,” Kraft said. “... to think that something like this could happen there, just doesn't compute for me, even though it's been four days I'm still really numb too it.”
According to Newtown High School records, there are currently at least 15 students attending the University from the Newtown area.