Kristen Hewitt, like the rest of us, was heartbroken after hearing the news of the Parkland, FL, school shooting that took the lives of 17 high school students and teachers and wanted to figure out what she personally could do to help. After scrolling through Facebook for a bit, she landed on a teacher's post about how she gives her students lollipops during lockdown drills to help soothe them and take their minds off the drill. Kristen — who gives her own kids lollipops when they travel for similar reasons — immediately saw the benefits of this and decided then and there to start collecting lollipops for her girls' school to have for the kids during their own drills.
And that's how Lollipops For Lockdown, an initiative that Kristen hopes can expand well beyond her local schools in Florida, was born.
"I know that as parents we are nervous about the safety of our schools, and we hate that our babies have to endure lockdown drills and active-shooter drills, but this is our current reality," Kristen wrote in a blog post. "Lollipops For Lockdown is something small we all can do to make these simulations more bearable for students and faculty. I spoke to our girls' teachers and the principal and all three confirmed that yes, they would indeed love lollipops for the students during lockdown drills . . . I went straight to my Trader Joe's after school and they generously gave us enough lollipops for an entire elementary school. It was that easy! So now we want to do more."
Kristen's first goal is to collect enough lollipops for every elementary school in her county, Broward County — which would be about 112,000 pops — and then she'll move onto middle schools in the county, high schools, schools across the rest of Florida, and hopefully, the rest of the nation's schools. Kristen shared with POPSUGAR that the goal set for Broward County has nearly been reached.
"Let's give the teachers an easy way to soothe our children. Let's show our schools that we love and appreciate everything they do for our kids. And let's do something small that can ease and serve our community," she wrote. Adding, in a statement to POPSUGAR: "Last week three schools were on lockdown in our county for three hours. One of the teachers messaged our Facebook page and said the lollipops really helped. While it's not something we like to think about happening — I'm so glad this was a nice distraction for the teachers and kids. Do we want safer schools? Yes! But at least this is something small and sweet we can do to help our schools."
If you'd like to help Lollipops For Lockdown reach its lofty goals, you can do a few things: reach out to local businesses with this donation letter for lollipop donations; ask your school if you could put out a donation box with this printable attached for parents to donate what they can to their own kids' school; or purchase lollipops for LFL from its Amazon wish list.