Holiday Reflections from a Promise Leader

Holiday vigil in remembrance of innocent lives taken by gun violence.

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Our guest blogger, Christine Chaillet, is a Promise Leader and creator of the popular blog, The Accidentally Running Mama. Here, she shares how the tragedy at Sandy Hook forever changed her. And how she’s now making a difference as a volunteer to protect our kids.

I Love, Love, Love the Holiday Season. I start planning in October. I start decorating before Thanksgiving. I bake all of December. I love to see the look on people’s faces when I give them their gifts.

I love the magic.

I love the decorations and preparations.

I love it all.

Most of all I love seeing it through the eyes of children. The way their eyes light up in pure excitement at the smallest things. There is nothing more magical.

Stopped in My Tracks

I still can vividly remember being in midst of all this magic baking Christmas cookies and stopping in my tracks December 14, 2012. My children were at school. My youngest was in Kindergarten and I could not stop crying as the news unfolded thinking these children were his age.   That day when I picked him up I hugged him a little tighter as I hid my tears. I had the luxury of picking him up when there were families that did not. And I knew that I couldn’t treat this tragedy as just another news story. Something changed inside me forever. It wasn’t just another news story. It was so much more.   

I couldn’t help to think of the families whose daily lives would never be the same, nor would their holiday celebrations. While I knew that I couldn’t change their pain, I could take action so others might be spared. I was committed to looking for what could be done to prevent another tragedy. That’s how I found Sandy Hook Promise. I proceeded to make the Sandy Hook Promise, a promise to help protect children from gun violence. As the newly formed Sandy Hook Promise Organization evolved, so did my involvement. 

Keeping Promises

I took the first step by becoming a Promise Leader. As a Promise Leader, I shared Sandy Hook Promise’s message of working to  prevent tragedies before they occurred. I shared on social media, talked to schools and teachers about utilizing the free programs. Their important and expanding programs have made a real difference!  

  • Start with Hello which can be started as early as Kindergarten teaches inclusiveness.
  • Say Something helps children to recognize warning signs when a peer is a danger to themselves or others and how they can talk to a trusted adult about the situation. 
  • Say Something Anonymous Reporting System is another tool in the ever expanding Sandy Hook Promise toolbox working to help children in crisis.    
  • SAVE Promise Club is a family of student-run clubs to further promote inclusiveness and kindness.  

Stepping Up to Save Lives

I knew that all of their important work and free programs offered to communities and schools can only continue to happen with funding. While I was already a financial supporter of Sandy Hook Promise, I wanted to take my support a step further. So in 2018 and again in 2019 I joined the SHP NYC Marathon fundraising team. I held bake sales, fundraising auctions, garage sales and more that both raised funds and awareness. Then as with many things in 2020, this year’s marathon was cancelled but their message of inclusiveness is needed even more now. The new Virtual Team Sandy Hook Promise is helping to carry on the tradition, from a safe social distance.   

Gathering Together with Loved Ones

Due to Coronavirus, this year the Holiday’s will also look different for so many of us. We won’t be able to gather the way that we normally do. We won’t be with the people that we love. Our celebrations will be smaller, quieter, and our tables a little emptier, but for most of us this will be a temporary moment in time but for other families this is now their reality.

Every year as I am in midst of our family holiday preparations, I remember December 14th as a day that changed so many of us. I am forever changed, but also know that as my family gathers around the table that many other families have empty chairs that should be filled. It is because of these empty chairs that I will keep spreading the Sandy Hook Promise message of hope, love and ending gun violence.

I know that together we can and do make a difference which is why I am honored to be part of the Sandy Hook Promise Team.