SANDY HOOK, Conn. (WTNH) – Wednesday, Dec. 14, marks 10 years since 20 first-graders and six educators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Jenny Hubbard, the mother of 6-year-old Catherine Hubbard, helped break ground Wednesday on the first permanent building on the property of the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown.

The sanctuary on 40 acres near Interstate 84 carries the legacy of Catherine, who loved animals. It’s where animals are cared for, nature is celebrated, and kindness lives.

“Catherine’s legacy lives on at the sanctuary, a place where all creatures know safety and kindness,” her mother said.

Hubbard said Catherine went to school on Dec. 14, 2012, with bells on her boots.

“She jingled all the way to the bus stop,” Hubbard said. “She was so excited that Christmas was 11 days away.”

The first grader’s love for animals led Hubbard to create the sanctuary, which has already saved some 700 animals from losing their homes or habitats. It also holds events to bring people closer to animals.

“You know, wildlife presentations, the butterfly party that brings thousands of people into our community on Catherine’s birthday, and the list goes on and on,” Newtown First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said.

Soon, instead of fields and woods, they will have buildings in which to hold their events.

They chose this solemn day for the groundbreaking because of the way the sanctuary represents Newtown’s journey over the last 10 years, one of healing through compassion. The sanctuary formed a children’s advisory group for kids to help design it.

The hope is treating animals better can lead to humans treating each other better, and Catherine’s family wants everyone to know she was kind.

“You see, the words of a little girl named Catherine Violet Hubbard rang truth then and truth now,” Hubbard said.

They hope to have a multi-use room, kitchen, gardens, and even treehouses as they keep building. After all, it was children who helped design it.

We will never forget the lives lost on Dec. 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook Elementary School:

  • Charlotte Bacon, 6
  • Daniel Barden, 7
  • Olivia Engel, 6
  • Josephine Gay, 7
  • Dylan Hockley, 6
  • Madeleine Hsu, 6
  • Catherine Hubbard, 6
  • Chase Kowalski, 7
  • Jesse Lewis, 6
  • Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
  • James Mattioli, 6
  • Grace McDonnell, 7
  • Emilie Parker, 6
  • Jack Pinto, 6
  • Noah Pozner, 6
  • Caroline Previdi, 6
  • Jessica Rekos, 6
  • Avielle Richman, 6
  • Benjamin Wheeler, 6
  • Allison Wyatt, 6
  • Rachel DD’Avino, 29 (behavior therapist)
  • Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, 47 (principal)
  • Anne Marie Murphy, 52 (special education teacher)
  • Lauren Rousseau, 30 (teacher)
  • Mary Sherlach, 56 (school psychologist)
  • Victoria Leigh Soto, 27 (teacher)