Local woman makes, delivers handkerchief angels to Newtown, Conn.

Published 12:55 am Sunday, September 22, 2013


SOUTH POINT — When tragedy strikes, some people pause and say a prayer, then go on with their lives.

For Jill Hatfield, of Kenova, W.Va., however, that’s when she starts making angels out of handkerchiefs to give families of the victims.

Email newsletter signup

Hatfield’s 97-year-old mother lives at River’s Bend Health Care, a nursing facility in South Point.

When Hatfield stops in to visit, she usually brings arts and crafts to make with her mother. Over the summer, Hatfield brought in supplies to make 26 handkerchief angels — one for each of the 20 children and six teachers who were killed on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Hatfield purchased a special issue of People magazine that profiled the victims. She studied each person, and prayed for each. Then she made an angel customized for each victim.

“I worked really hard to figure out which angel to give to each person,” she said. “I had a handkerchief embroidered with an E and made an angel for little Emily Parker. Another little girl’s favorite color was pink, so her angel had pink flowers on it. For Lauren Rousseau, the substitute teacher, I used a handkerchief with an L on it.”

Hatfield then attached a small card to each angel with the intended person’s name on it.

In past years, Hatfield has made angles and shipped them to the families of victims from the Columbine High School shooting and the Sago Mine disaster. This time, however, she had the opportunity to deliver the angels in person.

Hatfield visited her son in Providence, R.I., at the end of August, and they set aside a day to drive a couple of hours to Newtown.

“It is such a beautiful town,” Hatfield said. “It’s unimaginable that something so terrible could have happened there.”

Mother and son had lunch at a local diner, and then stopped at the city municipal building. There was a display case near the front entrance, with crystal tear drops engraved with each victim’s name.

A quilt bearing the names of those lost was hung on the wall. Hatfield was directed to a clerk, who took the handkerchief angels and told her each would be placed in a bin designated for the families.

She was told lots of mementoes and gifts had been sent for the families. Some came by regularly to pick up the items, while one family found it too hard to do so.

“This was very meaningful for me,” Hatfield said. “I was so saddened by that tragedy because it involved little children. This helped give me closure.”

She said in the weeks since she returned home she has received several thank you notes from Newtown. One of the notes was from the mother of Catherine Hubbard, who wrote that her daughter’s middle name was Violet, and the angel had little purple flowers on it.

“I didn’t know Catherine’s middle name was Violet,” Hatfield said. “I don’t know how to account for that.”

A spiritual person, Hatfield gives credit to a higher power. She recently shared her Newtown story with her congregation at the United Methodist Church in Kenova.