Photos courtesy of Braintree Fire Department
Braintree Firefighter Robbie Loud initially wanted a sticker to put on his fire helmet, commemorating those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School,
Five months later, the idea has grown into a successful fund-raising effort, with Braintree firefighters donating $16,000 to Sandy Hook this month.
According to Loud, the effort has been ongoing since December, soon after the massacre of several teachers and dozens of students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“It’s just the whole thing in general is such a tragedy. Every single one of the guys here has kids. It all hit home,” Loud said.
Loud initially said he had wanted to put a small sticker on his fire helmet to recognize those that lost their lives. When talking to fellow firefighters, Loud had the idea to sell the stickers.
The idea has since taken off, with hoards of people wanting to purchase the green sticker with a black ribbon emblazoned by stars for every person that died.
Another version of the sticker is a simple green ribbon, with the date, the town, and the seal of the town of Newtown on the front.
Though the effort started as a small, grassroots cause, orders started coming in in waves.
“I didn’t expect to sell over 7,000 stickers," Loud said. "It was a shock. When we first put it out on Facebook, I had people outside waiting for a delivery of stickers at the fire station. Thank God [manufacturer] Larry Chan had the order and he was on his way cause the line was out the door. This was literally Christmas week. It was just unbelievable.”
As fast as the Department and their partnering organization – Braintree business Signs and Prints - could make the stickers, they were selling out.
In return for getting a sticker, people were asked to send in photos of where they had placed them. For weeks, shots of the stickers on everything from fire helmets, to trucks, to ski helmets were all posted to the Department’s Facebook page.
“Everyone pitched in and we all did great,” Loud said. “These guys have been unbelievable supporting me. When I haven’t been here, they were selling the stickers. The support from these guys and girls has been overwhelming.”
Order requests were coming in up until the Boston Marathon tragedy, when attention was diverted away from the Connecticut incident.
Loud said the timing was right to send the check in to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, which was mailed in mid-May.
“Everything worked out, everything went well, and I sent them a check for $16,000, so we did something right,” Loud said. “Just the public in general, the outpouring of support in the beginning, you couldn’t even imagine. It was unbelievable.”
To see more photos of the stickers and reaction from the community, visit the Fire Department’s Facebook page.