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Sisters Grace and Abigail DellaVentura may have rested during their hour-long car ride from Guilford to Newtown on July 5, but they arrived bright-eyed and eager to present the $1,500 donation that they helped raise for Sandy Hook Promise.
Through their group Roots4Relief, Grace, 9½, and Abigail, 8, led a month-long “spare change” fundraiser in March with their younger cousins, Addison and Nora Healy, at The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center.
Roots4Relief was created by the family as a way for the children — who are all from the seventh Bishop Orchards generation — to have a way to make a positive difference in the community by working with local businesses and organizations.
In the past, the group has hosted a bicycle drive, during which the girls participated in building 100 bikes; a coat drive to collect winter wear for children in need; and a lemonade stand with funds going to teachers in Houston, Texas, affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The girls specifically chose to raise money for Sandy Hook Promise in this recent fundraising campaign because gun violence prevention is an important cause that means a lot to their family.
When meeting with Sandy Hook Promise Founders and Managing Directors Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, who both had a child killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on 12/14, Grace and Abigail’s father, John DellaVentura, explained that the girls had even participated in the March For Our Lives rally in Guilford.
Grace described being there, saying they held up signs that had the phrase “Less Guns, More Books” written on it.
Mr Barden praised the girls for their activism and told them that by being there, “You did more good than you may realize… people take notice.”
Roots4Relief’s $1,500 contribution to Sandy Hook Promise, Ms Hockley said, “will train 1,500 kids to help prevent gun violence.”
Ms Hockley explained to The Newtown Bee that it costs Sandy Hook Promise approximately $1 to train a student in one of the group’s four Know The Signs violence prevention programs that teach people how to recognize at-risk behaviors and get help before potential escalation.
Those four specific initiatives are called Say Something (and the Anonymous Reporting System), Start With Hello, Safety Assessment and Intervention, and Signs of Suicide.
Already, Sandy Hook Promise has been able to train more than 3.5 million youths and adults throughout 7,000 schools across all 50 states.
The programs are in high demand, as they have been proven to be effective at helping save lives and come at no cost to the schools, Ms Hockley said.
While speaking with Ms Hockley and Mr Barden, Abigail said it makes her happy getting to help other children and that Roots4Relief already has future plans for more ways to help their community.
Mr DellaVentura told The Newtown Bee that both he and his wife, Sarah, have made it their goal to help their children realize their full philanthropic potential.
“It is our hope that our kids can influence their peers and their community to make a difference and be the change that they want to see in the world,” he said. “It’s an extremely humbling experience to see my children want to help others and want to put others’ needs in front of their own.”
Before the DellaVentura Family left Sandy Hook Promise, Mr Barden and Ms Hockley shook the girls’ hands and instilled in them that what they are doing matters.
“Thank you for all you do,” Ms Hockley told Grace and Abigail. “You’re amazing.”