Groups hold lighting ceremony for Sandy Hook shooting victims, set up Christmas trees in Kearny Mesa

SAN DIEGO - San Diegans flocked to Kearny Mesa Thursday to decorate Christmas trees representing the victims of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre.

The 20 miniature and six full-sized trees represent the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary last Friday. One of the students killed in Newtown was 6-year-old Avielle Richman, a first-grader who used to live in Mira Mesa. A family blog described her cross-country move this past spring.

Brooke Maher, who placed a personalized ornament on one of the trees, told a local media outlet that she turned out to show "everybody over in Connecticut that there are people out there that care. Our hearts go out to them."

San Diegans were encouraged to decorate the trees throughout the day and leave notes or letters, according to organizers of the event. The messages and mementos will be mailed to Newtown.

The trees were set up on the front lawn of the San Diego Association of Realtors building at 4845 Ronson Court in Kearny Mesa.

Sponsoring organizations include the SDAR, the San Diego Unified School District, San Diego Police Officers Association, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, South Bay Family YMCA, Point Loma Nazarene University and STAR/PAL.

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