County leaders honor selfless 7-year-old

By jeanne starmack


Carol Rimedio-Righetti was working at a silent- auction table at an amateur boxing match when an adult in a 7-year-old’s body walked up to buy raffle tickets.

It was early December, and Lights Out Management was sponsoring the match, “Turn on the Christmas Lights for Area Families and Children,” as a fundraiser for two Valley domestic-violence shelters: the Sojourner House in Mahoning County and Someplace Safe in Warren.

Rimedio-Righetti, a Mahoning County commissioner, knows a co-organizer of Lights Out, and she’d agreed to buy program ads and work at the bout at St. Lucy’s Palermo Center.

It was, after all, for Sojourner House.

As she stood at the table, where raffle tickets were available for a football signed by Youngstown State University players and coaches, Mary Ginnis approached.

“This adult in a child’s body walked up and opened her little purse,” Rimedio-Righetti recalled last week as she and Mary reunited for a visit at the county courthouse.

Mary took out $20.

“I give her tickets and the next thing I know, she’s coming back and pulling out more money,” Rimedio-Righetti said. “I said, ‘Don’t you want to save this for Christmas gifts,’ and she said, ‘No, these people are poor, and I want to help them.”

Mary had about $50 accumulated from presents for good report cards and for helping her parents around the house.

“She [Rimedio-Righetti] came to me and said, ‘She keeps coming up with a 10, a 20,’” said Charity Ginnis, Mary’s mother. “And I said, ‘To be honest, it’s her money,’” adding that she has always encouraged her children to help people who are less fortunate.

Mary’s donations paid off in another way. She won the football, and her 10-year-old brother, George, found it in his stack under the Christmas tree.

The idea that a 7-year-old could be so selfless with $50 stayed with Rimedio-Righetti.

After the boxing match, she tracked down the Ginnis family and prepared a surprise for Mary: The county commissioners honored her at one of their weekly meetings.

Mary’s story won’t end there, Rimedio-Righetti said. It is, rather, she said, the beginning of a new tradition.

Every year from now on, she said, the commissioners will honor a student like Mary.

“We’re all getting older,” she pointed out. “They’re taking over, and they are the future,” she said.

Rimedio-Righetti hugged Mary several times as they stood in the courthouse rotunda, while Mary clutched her small pink purse.

Mary could have bought a lot of toys with her $50, Rimedio-Righetti pointed out.

“I don’t want to have toys,” Mary replied. “I want to help other people.”SClB

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