Andrew Dys

Rock Hill teen collects 'Coins for Connecticut' to aid shooting victims

Nobody told 16-year-old Hannah Cramer that she should help the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Ct.

Her heart told her.

“That day after school, I just thought about it, and prayed about it, and knew I could make a difference,” Hannah said. “All those little kids, those teachers.”

Teachers just like her mom – Lisa Cramer.

So this Northwestern High School junior – who is in honors classes and Beta Club and other service organizations – talked it over with her parents, Jim and Lisa Cramer.

Lisa Cramer is a teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School, and that Dec. 14 shooting of those 20 kids and six teachers hit home, too.

“I told her we would support anything she wanted to do,” Lisa Cramer said. “It was her idea. She wanted to do something. She wanted to help.”

Hannah came up with the name “Coins for Connecticut,” and decided to use Mason jars for collection. Two school friends, Bailey Ellison and Megan Kee, helped her.

Double B Graphix in Rock Hill gave her a free screen print of the T-shirt Hannah designed, with a heart shape on a purple shirt, and offered shirts at a reduced cost because all the proceeds were going to such a good cause. Purple is Northwestern’s school color.

The heart is composed of tiny hands, all connected. The T-shirts sell for $15. Northwestern agreed to allow T-shirts to be sold at the school store, and many area businesses agreed to let Hannah put a collection jar on their front counters.

Hannah created a Facebook page called Sandy Hook Fundraiser to help spread the word and seek donations for the families in Connecticut. She has received responses from as far away as Washington State and even Europe.

So far, more than $330 has been collected – pennies and nickels and quarters at a time. There have been some green bills stuffed in those jars, too, including one $20 bill.

“People have just been great,” Hannah said. “I found one wad of money bundled up with a rubber band.”

Every dime collected will go to the families of those killed in the massacre. Hannah and her family have set up a bank account and a post office box to handle the donations.

Hannah’s family has supported and helped her. Hannah does not yet drive and has to empty the jars at least every couple of days – but the drive comes from Hannah herself.

The family will take all the money collected by Hannah to Newtown, in person, in April.

Yes, while most kids are relaxing during spring break, Hannah Cramer will take months’ worth of fundraising effort for people she has never met, go to a state she has never been to before, and hand it all over for one simple reason:

“I just wanted to help.”