It’s a testament to the strength and generosity of a region that in midst of mourning a tragic loss of life, strangers can come together to plan a community candlelight vigil for the Perry family.
The candlelight vigil for Alton and Ashton Perry of North Stonington takes place at 7 p.m., at the North Stonington Recreation Park at 32 Rocky Hollow Road in North Stonington. Alton, 2, and his 6-month-old brother Ashton Perry died Tuesday in what police say was a double murder-suicide committed by their grandmother, Debra Denison, 47, of Stonington.
While the region struggles to make sense of the deaths, the first thought on many people's minds seems to be how to support the family.
Samantha Storey and Colleen Cibarich ran into each other at Dunkin’ Donuts on Wednesday morning and two hours later they had organized tonight's vigil. Storey doesn’t know the Perry family, but she said she did live across the street from Denison years ago.
“Colleen saw me at Dunkin’ Donuts and waved, then a few minutes later she texted me to see if I had any idea what we could do help,” Storey said.
They quickly began organizing the vigil, reaching out to friends through social media networks. Wheeler High School students, part of the school chorus volunteered to give up their Friday night to sing, Pastor Larry Chappell of the North Stonington Bible Church will give a sermon and Stonington Pot of Green Florist along with some friends of the Perry family donated more than 300 candles.
“I wanted to take care of the candles,” Judy Mann of Pot of Green said.
By Tuesday afternoon, 260 people had said they were coming via Facebook, but Storey said she was expecting many more.
It’s not clear if Alton’s and Ashton’s parents, Brenda and Jeremy Perry, will attend or if any family members will be there. Storey said she would be meeting with representatives of the family ahead of time to see if they wanted to say anything during the vigil.
Tentatively, the vigil will begin with a song performed by the Wheeler High School students, followed by a sermon from Chappell. Gary Baron will play the bagpipes at 7:45 p.m.
“I didn’t know what else to do,” Storey said on organizing the event.
How to Participate in the Vigil and Other Ways to Help
- CANDLELIGHT VIGIL: A candlelight vigil for Alton and Ashton Perry is planned for Friday, March 1, 2013, at 7 p.m. at the North Stonington Recreation Park behind the firehouse. The address is 32 Rocky Hollow Road in North Stonington. Candles are being donated but people are also encouraged to bring their own.
- FUNERAL-EXPENSE FUND: A fund to help pay the funeral expenses for 6-month-old Ashton Perry and 2-year-old Alton Perry has been set up at Chelsea Groton Bank. Donations can be made at any Chelsea Groton Bank location or by mail to Chelsea Groton, care of The Perry Family Fund, PO Box 11, North Stonington, CT 06359.
- GALLUP HILL SCHOOL FUND: Brenda Perry’s co-workers at the Gallup Hill School in Ledyard, where she was hired as a paraprofessional in January, began collecting funds Wednesday for her. “She was a proud momma,” said one of her coworkers. “It is very, very sad for her.” The school will be collecting funds for one month in an effort to help the Perrys pay for expenses. Contact the school for more information at (860) 536-9477.