As Newtown, Conn., braces for the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the families of the 26 shooting victims have launched a website to honor their lost loved ones.
Many of those families gathered Monday for a brief news conference to announce the launch of the website, MySandyHookFamily.org, where they say they'll post personal remembrances, photos and links to charities created in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings.
"In the midst of our grief, we have come to realize that we want our loved ones to be remembered for the lives they lived and how they touched our hearts," Krista Rekos, mother of slain first-grader Jessica Rekos, said. "We have been uplifted by the support of so many people, and we would like to keep that spirit of unity alive in all we do to remember those we so dearly miss."
The site's green-and-white homepage, a nod to the school's colors, includes the names of the 26 victims arranged in the shape of a heart.
The news conference was one of two media events held in Newtown on Monday, part of the town's plan to alleviate the need for media outlets to be there on Saturday, exactly one year after 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza went on the rampage at the elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults before turning a gun on himself.
In a joint statement, the families asked that those looking to support them on the tragic anniversary consider an act of kindness in memory of the shooting victims.
"We ask that you consider an act of kindness or donating to a charitable organization," the statement read.
The event ended with the 14 families saying they would light candles to honor the victims on Friday night, the eve of the anniversary.
In January, one month after the shootings, some of the same families launched a nonprofit group, Sandy Hook Promise, to promote a national dialogue on gun violence, mental health and school safety — with a promise of "real change."
Earlier Monday, Newtown First Selectman Patricia Llodra reiterated her call for media organizations to stay away on the anniversary itself.
"We can't choose to not have this horrible thing happen to us," Llodra said. "But we can choose how we react to it. Please respect our need to be alone and to have that personal time to continue on our journey of grief in the way that serves us."