OGDEN — The family of Emilie Parker, a young Utah native killed in a massive school shooting in Connecticut, has planned a public memorial to honor the girl in advance of her funeral.
The family of the 6-year-old girl has also organized a fund in her name. Emilie was among the 20 children killed Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The girl's family will hold a community vigil and memorial for Emilie at 7 p.m. Thursday in the atrium at Ben Lomond High School, 1080 9th St. Emilie's parents, Robbie and Alissa, met and started dating at the school, and the family has organized the event in an effort to keep the young girl's funeral and viewing limited to close family and friends.
The girl's family also announced the Emilie Parker Fund Tuesday, the proceeds of which "will go to help all of the Sandy Hook Elementary families affected in whatever ways each family deems necessary," according to a statement.
Numerous fundraisers already are under way for the young girl's family, who relocated to Connecticut from Ogden within in the past year, including a Facebook page with information about numerous community fundraisers, an account set up in the girl's name and other ways to donate.
The Emilie Parker Fund will benefit all victims of the shooting.
"The victims will live forever in our hearts, and we hope to create a memorial — an enduring legacy — for them in Newtown, as well as help rebuild and heal the shattered lives of all affected," the family said in the statement.
Meantime, members of the Ogden community and throughout the state have joined together to help the family in various ways.
Blair Christensen, Karlee Dutson and Kami Smith, founders of the online pop-up market website Brickyard Buffalo, heard of the tragedy in Connecticut and, learning that Emilie was from Ogden, wanted to do something help the Parker family.
One vendor they worked with, Fluff & Hollow, said it had more than 200 half chain, half rope bracelets it wanted to sell with 100 percent of the proceeds to be donated to the Emilie Parker Memorial Fund at America First Credit Union, Christensen said. All of the bracelets sold out within a few hours.
"It was overwhelming how many people wanted to help and give to this cause," she said. "I continue to receive email after email (from people) who are disappointed the bracelets are sold out and want to do more."
Brickyard Buffalo also is working with other vendors and local designers and plans to feature more products on the website soon, Christensen said, with the proceeds going directly to the victims' families.
As with the bracelets, those products will feature a LOVEFORCT designation, taken from a Twitter hashtag used after the shooting.
Christensen said she's hopeful that some of those products will be available Thursday.
"We want to be able to help as many people as we can," she said. "There's so much good in the world, even amidst the horrible things that have happened. It's motivating."
Christensen said the response to the bracelets has reinforced for her that the world is full of people who want to help.
"It's neat to see the community come together," she said. "It seems like after a big tragedy like this, it brings us together. It's unfortunate that it takes a tragedy like this, but it's the silver lining to see the community rally together."
Members of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregations who knew the Parkers gathered Monday to tie pink ribbons throughout the neighborhood.
A community group plans to gather Thursday night to cut pink ribbons and again Friday to tie them along the funeral procession route. The meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday will take place at the LDS Mound Fort Stake Center, 373 15th St. Those attending have been asked to bring scissors and, if possible, pink ribbons, wooden dowels or thin, plastic pink tablecloths.
Those hoping to help tie the ribbons should meet at 8:45 a.m. Friday in the parking lot of the Rock Cliffs LDS Stake Center, 1000 Suncrest Drive.