IJAMSVILLE — A generous crowd showed up to the Oakdale High School basketball game Tuesday night, and that's exactly what Ryan Mumaw and Brian Closs wanted.
The high school juniors were raising money for the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund — an initiative sponsored by the United Way of Western Connecticut.
"It doesn't take much to reach out and help someone," Mumaw said, standing a few feet away from a handmade sign for their fundraiser.
Donations collected for the relief fund will provide support to grieving families who may need assistance. A total of 26 people were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S history. The gunman also killed his mother in her home before committing suicide.
Now families in Newtown, Conn., are working to recover in the aftermath of the tragedy, which is why Mumaw and Closs said they wanted to help.
"It really got to me," Mumaw said.
News of the shooting left Mumaw thinking about his younger brother, who is the same age as many of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Closs said he was also disturbed. The uncomfortable feeling made him want to help Mumaw in his efforts to raise money for the fund.
"It was kind of hard not to something about it," Closs said.
On Tuesday night, their efforts were applauded by Alexia Isacco, an English teacher and National Honor Society supervisor at Oakdale. She said watching the boys work together has been a joy.
"When you see kids wanting to help others you want everything in your power to help them," Isacco said.
She added that both Mumaw and Closs have worked diligently to organize their fundraising efforts. In addition to basketball games, both boys are raising money during lunch periods at Oakdale. Their hard work will continue over the next few days.
By Tuesday they had raised more than $200, but donations collected before the game had not been counted.
"We are hoping to hit a thousand (dollars) by the end of the week," Isacco said.
On Tuesday night, the game ended with a victory for Oakdale and the fund.
"We just want to do what we can to help them get back on their feet," Mumaw said.
To make a donation to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund, visit newtown.uwwesternct.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.