By Jordan Cohen
Salvation Army Major Valerie Kahn smiled broadly as she stared at the large number of bicycles, toys and sports equipment donated by the General Motors paint-shop workers for children in need.
“They always do a phenomenal job every year,” she said during a ceremony Thursday at the paint shop. “There are going to be a lot of happy faces because of this.”
More than 100 children and three specially selected families will be the beneficiaries of the 10th Annual Lordstown Paint Shop/Salvation Army Angel Tree project. Plant management and members of United Auto Workers Local 1112 also donated $4,700 cash. Kahn said Angel Tree, which is countywide, will serve 2,000 children age 2 to 12, but the GM Lordstown collection is the largest.
“You’re making a huge difference,” she told the plant workers.
Tina Caperelli, paint-shop planner who has organized the plant drive for nearly nine years, said toys and clothing are purchased based on age and gender of each child. “The Salvation Army told us about three families in need, and we ‘adopted’ them for this drive,” Caperelli said.
Scott Negley, plant manager, said approximately 20 bicycles were donated, all of which came with helmets. Articles donated probably would appear on any child’s wish list. In addition to the bicycles, they included sports gear, model cars, trucks, gyrocopters, Barbie accessories and Furbies.
“The parents registered in October and made their choices at that time,” Kahn said.
All of the gifts were taken by truck after the ceremony to a specially located “toy shop” at a location that Kahn said the Salvation Army does not disclose. “The parents can pick up the gifts by appointment only,” Kahn said.
Negley said he was heartened by the plant’s generosity. “The paint shop rallies around this,” he said. “Management and union, we’re all team members.”