SOUTHINGTON — Balls of clay, paint brushes and paint palettes filled the plastic-covered tables in Hatton School’s cafeteria Friday night as children and their families prepared to get crafty.
Friday night was Hatton School’s family night. Officials from the Connecticut chapter of the Ben’s Bells project were ready to help everyone create shapes out of clay for a bell.
The project originated in Tuscon, Ariz., in memory of Ben Mare, a child who died suddenly in 2002. Ben’s family has since been creating handmade bells, which look similar to wind chimes. Each bell has a flower, which is called the center, with a few small beads on the top of the flower and below. At the very bottom of the creation is a small bell.
The bells were hung around the community to promote kindness. Last year Ben’s Bells made it to Newtown and more than 1,000 bells were displayed there. Since that time, a studio was created in Newtown as well as a chapter. Officials travel throughout the state creating bells.
“It’s not just kindness shown through friends and family… but acts of kindness from strangers,” said Beth Krueger, a teamer leader with the Ben’s Bells of Newtown.
P.J. Debisschop and Leigh Pechillo helped coordinate the event and get the Ben’s Bells project to come back to Hatton School. About 100 people were at the event Friday night.
“This took off in Arizona and people making bells and leaving them in places for people to find to make them happy,” Debisschop said.
Krueger asked the children what acts of kindness they can show.
“You could share books,” said Katie Cavanaugh, a kindergartner at Hatton School. “You can play with somebody.”
Katie was with her family Friday night.
“We wanted to support the cause and it’s a family event,” said Donny Cavanaugh, Katie’s father.
Katie’s brother, 4-year-old Jacob Cavanaugh, said he planned on making a beach ball or a blue bead when they got started.
Beads can be made into any shape, Krueger said, and that’s what makes each one unique. After the pieces are formed and painted by different people in the community, they are added together to make a bell. There were hot dogs, turtles, smiley faces, dice, and fruit beads made for the bells.
Bridget O’Brien, a first-grader at Derynoski School, painted a “kindness coin” pink and dipped her paintbrush in the water to get ready to paint another one. Kindness coins are to be used when someone sees an act of kindness and they can give a coin to whoever did the good deed.
On the other side of the cafeteria, Emmersyn Ceruti, and Adriana Paszkowski, both kindergartners a Hatton School, played with balls of clay to try to form their own bead.
Some people were creating shapes out of clay while others were painting shapes that were created by people in another community. The pieces made Friday night will be painted by others because they have to be fired in the kiln in Newtown before they can be painted.
“It’s a real community process,” Krueger said.