"I think that service and the sharing of one's faith and the sharing of one's shock and sadness in a spiritual way is a great help to many people," she said.
But beyond that, she said, is honoring the people who were killed by doing a good deed for someone.
Starting with Brady Howell, a Utah State University graduate who died at the Pentagon on 9/11, Atkinson often delivers food or clothing to a needy person in the name of a victim of a tragedy. Sometimes she lets the recipient of the donation know what she's doing. She'll do the same thing for those who died or were hurt in Boston.
"It seems to me be so right to honor that person by doing something for somebody else," Atkinson said.
"It's very, very difficult to understand how somebody could be evil enough to want to kill and maim people. That's unconscionable. The only way to deal with it is to vow to help make this world a better a place."
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