Just when it seemed like the sorrow from the Connecticut school shootings would never cease to get worse, two tiny brothers stepped in to show that the spirit of children can never cease to amaze.
The amazement comes courtesy of the hustle and care for others of Thomas and Tanner Carney, just 10 and 7, but veterans of bake sales and lemonade sales outside their Rock Hill house to raise a few bucks.
“What happened to those little kids is just terrible,” said Thomas, 10 years old. “It is horrible.”
All last week, the boys baked cookies, Amish bread and muffins and sold them. Not to put away the dough for a new bicycle, or the ice cream truck, but to help the families of those 20 kids in Connecticut who died in a slaughter that can only be described as sick and senseless.
Two days after the Dec. 14 killings, Thomas Carney lay in his bed. His mom came in to kiss him goodnight.
“What do you think the parents will do with the Christmas presents for the kids?” Thomas asked his mother, Terra. “I want to do something for those people.”
Terra and T.J. Carney, the parents, agreed that a bake sale would be a good idea, since these two kids had already done it. But the boys wanted to do the work. Thomas, age 10, who already volunteers cleaning at the Palmetto Pregnancy Center once a week, asked if the stuff could be sold there.
Lynne Siglin and Trudy Laub at the center said sure. So the boys mixed and baked and brought over the banana nut muffins and chocolate chocolate chip cookies and other stuff. The guys’ four little sisters -- Tristin, Teagan, Annie and Tarryn -- all helped.
The Carney boys even made snowflakes out of construction paper to sell.
“We just wanted to help somebody,” said Tanner, who wears the coolest glasses in the entire world and points out: “I’m almost 8.”
These Carney boys put out an old coffee can with paper over it that said “Sandy Hook Elementary fund.”
Then at Winthrop, where their dad works in the information technology department, more goods were sent, and another coffee can.
Mom sent out word on Facebook and through an e-mail list at Harvest Baptist Church.
The idea exploded. People wanted baked goods, made special orders, but people really just wanted to help. Some people donated $20.
“One person gave $40!” said Thomas.
The coffee cans filled up with more than $200 in donations, all for people these two little boys likely will never meet. Some people wrote notes to the boys, thanking them for their selfless gestures.
“It shocked me, the response,” said Terra Carney, the mother. “In a good way. People were just great.”
The family looked up the name of the fund in Newtown, Conn, that is collecting money for the families. Today, the family heads for the bank to exchange the cash for a money order to send to Connecticut. Thomas and Tanner Carney will then go to the post office - with help from mom and dad - and send out the money.
The donation to be sent off is not the largest raised in America - or even Rock Hill. But it might be the one that came from the smallest kids with the biggest hearts.
Thomas Carney, who spent most of Wednesday with Tanner getting as muddy as two boys can possibly get while playing outside, said he was happy and proud to bake cookies and bread and muffins to help somebody else.
Because, said Thomas Carney, age 10, with a little brother and sister the same age as those kids who died: “We all have to remember those kids and their families and care about them.”
Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065 * firstname.lastname@example.org