By Eric Egan
MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (WCIV) -- It may be years before we understand the impact the Connecticut school shooting will have on the country. But it's clear the event forever changed Newtown the moment it happened.
Although broken by tragedy, the people there are being picked-up and one Lowcountry church is contributing. Surrounded by heartache and the loss of innocent life, as it grieves, Newtown is focused on the road ahead.
"What we're preparing for is realizing the hard work is ahead," said Adam DePasquale, a pastor at Walnut Hill Community Church in Newtown.
DePasquale said five of the Sandy Hook children were part of his congregation. Since the shooting Walnut Hill has set up funds for funerals, grief counseling and more. Those needs will only grow in the coming days and weeks.
"We're trying to raise as much money as physically possible because we know the needs are that great," DePasquale said. "I have two children in the Newtown schools and I'm aware of all they're going through and what they're thinking in terms of Sandy Hook School. The need is massive."
"I got an email from him on Saturday, from Adam, just saying, 'Could you pray for us? We're right in the middle of it,'" said Josh Surratt.
Surratt, a campus pastor at Seacoast Church worked with Walnut Hill members about a year ago, in Mount Pleasant. As part of a holiday kindness campaign, Seacoast members recently raised $500,000 for charity, to date $10,000 of that has gone to Walnut Hill and more is on the way.
"I think human nature wants to help and I look at that community and I see a lot of parallels to Charleston, suburban Charleston, Mount Pleasant," Surratt said. "We're just letting them know, in the midst of evil that we've seen, there's also good."
This week Walnut Hill will remember 6-year-old Dylan Hockley who died wrapped in the arms of his favorite teacher.
"We're actually holding the memorial service for Dylan Hockley on Friday. His parents really wanted it to be a celebration of his life," said DePasquale.
DePasquale and fellow pastors were at the Newtown firehouse when Dylan's parents learned he was one of the shooting victims.
"They connected there naturally so it's been a really nice relationship," he said. "We've been really blessed to have been able to come around them and support them during this time."
Wednesday, DePasquale asked for continued support, more prayers and to not be forgotten.
To contribute to the Newtown relief fund through Walnut Hill or Seacoast church, visit http://www.walnuthillcc.org/home/news/0000/00-00/reaching-out-to-sandy-hook-community or www.seacoast.org.