Town Heals and Remembers

Calif. Dispatcher Buys 100 Cups of Coffee for Newtown, Inspires Others to Pay it Forward

After Tom Cavanaugh ordered coffee for patrons of the Newtown General Store, a friend of his sent candy to the small town shaken by a school shooting.

By Kim Baldonado
|  Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012  |  Updated 10:48 AM PDT
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Inspired by Tom Cavanaugh s ordering 100 cups of coffee for patrons of the Newtown General Store, a friend of his sent candy to the small town shaken by a school shooting. Kim Baldonado reports from Northridge for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2012.

Inspired by Tom Cavanaugh s ordering 100 cups of coffee for patrons of the Newtown General Store, a friend of his sent candy to the small town shaken by a school shooting. Kim Baldonado reports from Northridge for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 17, 2012.

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When Tom Cavanaugh learned of the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school last week, he remembered the words of his late Sicilian mother.

"She said, when someone’s in mourning, they lose somebody important, you send prayers and food," said Cavanaugh, a New Jersey native who now lives in Los Angeles and works as a dispatcher for the Cal State Northridge police department.

Sending prayers was easy, but how would he send food? Cavanaugh remembered seeing the Newtown General Store on the news, and gave them a call.

"I couldn’t afford to buy them all breakfast so I asked how much was a cup of coffee and they a buck 25," Cavanaugh said.

He gave the employee his credit card number and told her to charge 100 cups of coffee.

"She was definitely shook up," Cavanaugh recalled. "She said, ‘How do you spell your name again. I want to get it right because I’m shaking.’ She started crying, of course she’s not OK."

Then, Cavanaugh’s small act of kindness multiplied when he posted the Newtown General Store’s phone number on Facebook and Twitter.

"A friend from George bought kids candy and another friend bought doughnuts," he said. "Hopefully this picked up someone’s spirits for a couple of seconds and showed someone cares."

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