Wilton residents volunteering for March for Change set up a table on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to raise awareness about the Feb. 14 march at the Capitol building in Hartford. The organization is hoping to draw thousands to the rally on the two-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown in order to demonstrate to Connecticut legislators that state constituents support stricter gun laws.
"The march is an opportunity for people to come together both those who own guns and those who do not, to find common ground for the safety of our families," said Maura Connolly, one of the Wilton volunteers who helped organize Saturday's table, said. "We want to raise awareness, continue the discussion and let our legislators know that we want to see them continue to strive for meaningful change in gun safety laws."
The Wilton group is organizing buses to Hartford on the morning of the march, leaving from the Park and Ride parking lot next to Orem's Diner. So far, they've filled two buses and are hoping to fill more. Seats cost $26 and people can buy tickets for the bus on the March for Change Web site.
Saturday's effort was directed at handing out information and helping people register for the march. The group collected donations as well as had a bake sale to raise money. Through some of the donations they hoped to sponsor bus seats for individuals in Norwalk, Stamford and Bridgeport who can't pay to ride the bus to the march, but who still want to join the rally.
Close to $1,500 was raised in just a few hours, as passers-by dropped in as much as $50 each. Several people even made donations without any of the baked goods.
"It was overwhelming generosity from start to finish. You could just tell that people believe strongly that something needs to happen," organizer Lucy Davies told Patch.
Davies added that there were also passers-by that had a lot to say about the other side of the gun control debate. "There were a couple of people who had different opinions. They were polite, and funnily enough, even one of them gave money. Somebody said, 'I don't really believe in these kinds of restrictions,' and then stuck a $20 bill in the jar!" Davies laughed.
Wilton resident Donna Savage told Patch why she made the decision to sign up to volunteer on Saturday at the table. "I have family who work and teach in Newtown, who were directly impacted by the events there," she said. "And I think we need to raise awareness, come together and make positive change. We need to find a common place where it's safe for everyone, and we can live more peacefully together."
The group plans on having another table later in February before the march, but Connolly encouraged others to think about all the ways they can have an impact.
"People can contribute on so many different levels," Connelly said. "You can contact your legislators—write letters and emails. The March for Change rally is going to be a really powerful physical presence of people who want to see changes, so people can come for that. They can donate to [CT Against Gun Violence]. People can sponsor a seat on a bus for someone who may not have the financial ability to pay for a seat but wants to be at the February 14 march, so they're able to go."