MN Families Reach Out to Sandy Hook Survivors Through Art

Updated: 12/22/2012 6:34 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Minnesota families came together to create artwork Saturday, to help bring a little happiness and joy to the struggling families in Newtown, Connecticut.

They called it "Smiles for Sandy Hook Elementary."

A year ago in Newtown, they were no doubt singing Christmas carols, and painting children's faces.

But the holiday joy we still feel in the Midwest is no doubt muted out east this year.

For Minnesota parent Jim Barke, the moment in the aftermath that truly broke his heart happened last Sunday, when President Obama read the names of the Sandy Hook fallen. "There's so much sad news out there that sometimes you become immune to it," Barke said.

But not this time. Barke felt the need to do something--anything--to help out.

Sitting at a table with his young son Evan, inside the Bloomington Theater and Arts Center, Barke told Even, "Keep working. You're making really pretty pictures."

Barke wanted to teach Evan, to show him, how he could help care for a community in crisis.

Then there was young Seth Brewers, who came with his mother and sisters. "It was horrible," he said of the mass shootings. "So I want to do this."

One sister showed off a piece of art she made that said "peace on earth." Another pointed to an angel she'd made.

"That's nice," Seth told her.

According to Shawn McCann, the president of the group that sponsored the event, The Children's Book Illustrators Guild, "Art has always been known as a way to express your emotions. You don't have to use words. It's definitely got a healing aspect to it."

They hoped to create more than 1,000 word-less, emotion-filled, healing art projects today.

Seth Brewer said to his mother, "Mom, can I make one more?"

Jim Barke said to his son Evan, "Should daddy help you?"

Little Evan might be too young to understand and appreciate how much his efforts will mean to those who'll receive them, but Jim Barke hopes this day, somehow, will serve as a foundation of sorts, a tiny character building moment.

It was a day to show the importance of caring, and caring deeply, for those who desperately need it.

For more information: http://www.book-illustrators.blogspot.com or http://www.facebook.com/Smiles4SandyHook

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com