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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
The world has wept with Newtown, Connecticut residents, but the tragedy hit one Charlotte family especially hard.
The DiMartino's moved to the Queen City two years ago for a new start. Mom Dina was a real estate agent there. She knows the town like the back of her hand.
"Newtown really is a place you want to bring up a family. It is truly a Norman Rockwell style community," Dina DiMartino said. "I just want to be there and wrap my arms around all of them and say it's going to be okay."
DiMartino learned of the shooting through an email. She broke the news to her daughters when they got home from school. Her oldest, Sydney, took it the hardest. "These are places I would go with friends when I was 7 or 8 and play on the playground ...It's just so weird," Sydney said.
"My son Beau..he is 8 years old..I was really concerned these were friends of his that perished or siblings of friends that perished and the first question out of his mouth was 'Are my friends dead?'.I told him I don't think so...I'm praying they're not,'"Dina said.
In true small town fashion, DiMartino would know by day's end who was safe and who was not.
A former co-worker's daughter was among the dead.
"To hear the stories of these courageous teachers saving these children...and putting them in closets and cabinets. God Bless them. They are our heroes and will always be remembered that way. And I think about the scars of the children that witnessed this and survived this...the only thing I can think is this town is so strong and going to wrap these kids in love and support and get them through this as a community and be there for these parents that lost these beautiful angels," Dina said.
She says it's true the town lost its innocence that day, but in a place where memories make it so much more DiMartino hopes these headlines won't forever tarnish the town she loves
"It's going to take time and there's a lot of healing to be done but they want their little town back."
Dina and her daughter Sydney plan to fly to Newtown on Monday. The pair is taking with them 26 angel tree toppers to place on Christmas trees believed to be donated from someone else in North Carolina.
Several funds have been set up for the victims of Sandy Hook. One is to help with funeral expenses, another to help build a memorial garden.
The Park Gift Fund at Newtown Parks and Recreation
3 main street Newtown, CT/ memo Sandy Hook Children's fund
Sandy Hook School Support Fund c/o Newtown Savings Bank 39 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470