Youngsters get coats to stave off winter’s wrath

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By Sean Barron


The Mahoning Valley is in the grip of a prolonged cold spell, but dozens of youngsters will be warmer this winter, thanks to the philanthropic efforts of a township financial firm.

“We found that there was a need in Boardman and the community for children who need coats,” Ryan Cuffle said about his company’s decision to collect and donate the items for students in the district’s four elementary schools.

Cuffle, a branch manager with Top Flite Financial Inc., a Boardman-Canfield Road mortgage bank, was at Stadium Drive Elementary School on Thursday morning to drop off the 51 coats in three large bags.

They will then be distributed to Stadium Drive students, along with those at Market Street, West Boulevard and Robinwood Lane elementary schools, noted Michael Zoccali, Stadium Drive’s principal.

The timing couldn’t have been better, given the recent frigid weather, added Jen Carey, a guidance counselor who helped organize the event.

Cuffle explained his business started accepting donations of coats shortly after Thanksgiving, an effort that continued until close to Christmas. Afterward, the coats were divided among the four schools, he continued.

Too often, youngsters in need have to wear secondhand coats, or have ones that are inadequate for the weather, so it’s essential they have new ones that are warm enough for whatever winter brings, Cuffle added.

“It’s just something we saw as a need,” he said. “Some families are less fortunate, so this is something we do to give back.”

Each person who donated to the coat drive also was entered into a drawing to win four tickets to a Cleveland Cavaliers game. The recent winner opted to attend a Cavs game in April, Cuffle said.

Many Boardman families are struggling financially or trying to make ends meet, in part because of a lack of employment, noted Carey, who’s also a guidance counselor at Market Street Elementary.

“A lot of different family dynamics come into play,” she said. “We appreciate any support from the community for our children.”

Also expressing his gratitude was Zoccali, who echoed Carey’s assessment of such needs.

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