NEWTOWN, Conn. - People around the world are grieving with the residents of Newtown over the murders of 26 schoolchildren and staff, offering their support by sending toys, money, and other gifts.
An outpouring of tens of thousands of teddy bears, Barbie dolls, soccer balls, board games, and more has come from toy stores, organizations, and individuals worldwide.
"It's their way of grieving. They say, 'I feel so bad, I just want to do something to reach out,' " said Bobbi Veach, who was helping Saturday at Edmond Town Hall, where all of Newtown's children were invited to choose a toy.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre Dec. 14, victims were still being buried Saturday. A service was held in Ogden, Utah, for 6-year-old Emilie Parker. Others were held in Connecticut for 7-year-old Josephine Gay and 6-year-old Ana Marquez-Greene.
The 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, killed his mother earlier across town and took his own life after the school massacre. Police still don't know why he did it.
At religious services Sunday morning in Newtown, church leaders received standing ovations from parishioners they have been helping to cope with the tragedy.
"This has been the worst week of my life," said Msgr. Robert Weiss of the St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church, which lost eight children and two adults in the massacre. He thanked the community for giving him strength to get through the week filled with funerals.
In a church bulletin, he urged people to go ahead and celebrate Christmas with prayers for hope, healing, and peace.
"We know that some hearts in this town will be broken again on Christmas morning when that one special person is not there to open their gifts," he wrote.
The Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd also received an ovation and kisses from a long line of parishioners at Trinity Episcopal Church.
Millions of dollars have poured into Newtown in the aftermath of the tragedy. The United Way of Western Connecticut said the official fund for donations had $2.8 million in it on Saturday. Others sent envelopes stuffed with cash to pay for coffee at the general store, and a shipment of cupcakes arrived from a gourmet bakery in Beverly Hills, Calif.
The Postal Service reported a sixfold increase in mail in the town and set up a special post office box to handle it. Some letters were addressed to the "First Responders" or just "The People of Newtown."