Community Mourns Newtown Victims

December 17, 2012 Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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December 17, 2012 Updated Dec 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM EDT


It was exactly what community members in Barker, New York say they needed -- a show of love, unity and compassion, at a time when the nation is mourning. Amazingly, a 10-year-old little girl brought that to Barker.

10-year-old Abigal Wilson, known as Abby, organized a candlelight prayer vigil at the village's town square to honor the victims in Newtown, Connecticut.

Police say a gunman shot and killed his mother in her Newtown home, before shooting 26 others to death at nearby Sandy Hook Elementary School. 20 of the victims were children, just six and seven years old. This latest mass shooting has left a nation mourning and confused.

Abby first found out about the mass shooting on her way to dance class, and knew she had to do something.

During a conversation on Saturday with her grandma, the fifth grade student asked "What if it was me, right before Christmas?" Abby then sprung into action, passing out fliers for a prayer vigil that about 200 people attended.

Looking at the community support, Abby said "I am very surprised -- and not just by how many people care, but how many people are trying to spread joy."

She adds "Christmas is about giving back. I think we need to give."

Abby's mother, Amber Gurman, says "It warms your heart to know so many people are here -- but there's a sadness in the air."

Barker resident Patty Steel adds it's inspiring "to think of a fifth grader thinking not of herself, but of everybody else."

The evening began with a message from Abby and her mother, who read a list of those who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Tears flowed, but Abby hopes this is how the community can grieve and recover.

Abby gave several messages, hoping to inspire prayer for Newtown.

People in the crowd broke out into Christmas song, while many wept for the victims who would not see the holidays.

Amanda McDonald adds "I have three in elementary school and I couldn't imagine if it was one of them."

Community members say Newtown and Barker are not that different. Mayor Herbert Meyer says "It's a strong, tight knitted community where everybody knows everybody."

Abby and her family also passed out Christmas tree ornaments, so that community members will remember the victims and their families.

A wise girl beyond her years, Abby says "They may be in Connecticut and I may be in New York, but we're all for each other."