Ben's Bells Project Comforts Virginia Tech Students

By: Stefanie Boe, KOLD News 13 This Morning Senior Producer

Wednesday marks the day one year ago when a student opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech University. When it was all over, 32 students and the gunman were dead. It's a day thousands of people have been dreading in Blacksburg, Virginia and across the country.

But one Tucson family has brought a bright spot to many people there, Ben's Bells. Jeannette Maré-Packard started the Ben's Bells project here in Tucson after the sudden death of her own son.

They are handmade works of art that are hung in unexpected places for people to find. They have a tag that explains the project and has the website www.bensbells.org

Since hanging the bells over the weekend, dozens of people have visited the website to leave their comments about finding a bell on the Virginia Tech campus--just days before the anniversary. Here are just a few:

On Monday I was starting to remember last year, what happened, where i was, things like that. And seeing the increase police presence on campus did not help my state of mind either. After classes and on my way to work, I passed a ben's bell in a tree outside owens and decided to see what it was.
I just want to thank you all for helping to spread kindness and happiness though the campus during what is and is going to be a tough time for all hokies.

Thank you.

I had not heard about this project until today when a friend passed on a link to this website.
I was finding it very hard to concentrate and focus on writing my last paper for graduate school. I am a student at Virginia Tech (class of '05 and soon-to-be '08) and have been dreading our 1-year anniversary of our campus tragedy. I decided to get some fresh air and wanted to take a practice walk on campus--as I have not walked the same route I walked that day--since last year. As I was walking past my former dorm, and the sight of the first shootings--AJ--I noticed a slight bell ringing and a bright yellow flower hanging from a tree. It was just hanging from the branch--and I just burst into tears.
In addition to the tears, the bell brought a smile to my face and just gives me hope for tomorrow and beyond.
I want to thank everyone involved with Ben's Bells for this WONDERFUL gift. It has truly touched me.
I cannot wait to be able to pass on a bell in the future.

Thank you from the bottom of this Hokie's heart!

On Sunday, April 13th, I was walking through the Horticulture Gardens with my family when I came upon a Ben's Bell. I was unsure whether I was supposed to take it, or if it was just a garden decoration, but I read the paper and took it like it said. Now that I read many more accounts of Ben's Bells being found around campus, I want to say thank you for remembering us at this time. Mine hangs proudly on my porch, and I tell everyone who sees it about Ben's Bells.

Finding out about this project was a true inspiration. With April 16th approaching finding a reason to smile is becoming harder and harder. The immense support we saw last year from the whole world is most simply represented in the echoing ring of the tiny bell.

I will cherish my Ben's Bell and hold it close to my heart. Really, it's the simplest gestures that mean the most and I thank you so much for bringing your kindness to the Hokie Nation.

neVer forgeT