A 12-year-old girl in a southern Manitoba community has gathered hundreds of paper snowflakes to help students coping with last month's shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Olivia Catellier of Dufrost, Man., said she was saddened and scared when she heard of the Dec. 14 shooting at Newtown's Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 children and six staff members.

"They never did anything to deserve that," Catellier told CBC News on Wednesday.

A 20-year-old man armed with a high-powered rifle shot and killed his mother before he forced his way into the school and shot dead 20 children, aged 6 and 7, as well as six staff members, before taking his own life.

In Newtown, classes are scheduled to begin Thursday at a repurposed school for students who survived the shooting.

The Connecticut Parent-Teacher Association had put out a call for paper snowflakes to help decorate the temporary school as a welcoming "Winter Wonderland."

Catellier said she learned of the idea just before Christmas and started spreading the word throughout Dufrost, a community of about 40 people.

She placed drop boxes in nearby grocery stores and people started dropping off paper snowflakes at her place. She ended up collecting more than 500 snowflakes.

But then, the Connecticut Parent-Teacher Association halted the snowflake campaign on Tuesday, citing an overwhelming number of snowflakes that have already been donated from around the world.

"I didn't know what I was going to do with all these snowflakes," Catellier said.

The snowflakes she collected are now heading to the Jake Epp Library in Steinbach, Man., where they will be part of a display of solidarity with the people of Newtown.

Town officials in Newtown have also been inundated with toys and other tokens of support in the weeks following the tragedy.

With files from The Associated Press