MONSON, Mass. (WWLP) - Western Massachusetts is about 80 miles from Newtown, Connecticut, but despite the distance, many people stepped up to help people affected by this tragedy.
22News was in Monson Saturday as people gathered to pray for the victims.
Through silent hugs and prayers, Monson residents tried to cope with reality. Twenty children lost their lives and seven adults and the alleged shooter are also dead.
For many people, being a parent or a grandparent made this tragedy even more difficult to understand.
"I just kept picturing my own children, and my grandchildren. We have 12 grandchildren, and I just can't even imagine anyone doing something like this to a child," said Muriel Pellissier of Monson.
"You send your child to school, expecting to be able to greet them with open arms when they come home, but then it's over, just that quickly, said Bernard Pellisier of Monson.
A mass shooting back in July at a movie theater in Colorado and now this shooting in Connecticut. The pastor at the First Church of Monson told 22News this year has been a rough year for many people, so he said he's hoping Saturday's vigil will show all families affected, that there is a support system out there.
"To make that choice is a choice for life, and we can choose to live. Not choose to be shut off from our communities. Not choose to be dead inside. We can choose life," said Bob Marrone, the pastor of The First Church of Monson.
And many people said they'll never forget the teachers who died protecting their students.
Many communities like West Springfield, Chicopee, Easthampton and Agawam are also holding prayer vigils. A list of area vigils can be found here.