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Canfield teen takes charge to clean vets’ gravestones

Sarah DeRosa ....submitted photo

CANFIELD — Sarah DeRosa’s project to honor veterans started by happenstance.

Sarah, 17, a junior at Canfield High School, is planning to clean 350 veteran gravestones at Canfield East Cemetery by Memorial Day. The project started because she and her father, Michael DeRosa, wanted to clean the mold off their back patio and saw a video on YouTube of people using the the cleaning agent they were buying to clean headstones at national cemeteries.

“I started formulating the idea a few months ago and started talking to people, including Mike Kubitza (commander of American Legion Post 177),” Sarah said.

Then, her class went on a field trip to Canfield East Cemetery and she saw firsthand the poor condition of some of the veteran headstones, and that solidified her plan. She returned to the cemetery a few weeks later with Kubitza to get a better idea of the project she was undertaking.

“You couldn’t even read some of the headstones,” Sarah said.

She approached Councilman Chuck Tieche, who is head of the parks, cemetery and recreation committee, which gave its approval for the project. Sarah received approval from city council as a whole last month.

Her next step was talking to Canfield City Manager Wade Calhoun, who gave Sarah and Michael a waiver to sign so the city is not held liable if anyone is injured while doing the project.

“We don’t even have to touch the headstones. We spray on the cleaning agent and after a few weeks, the grime comes off and then we can use brushes to get between the letters,” Sarah said.

She started a gofundme page to raise money to purchase the 10 gallons of cleaning agent, as well as brushes and other supplies. So far, she has raised $526 of her $700 goal. Any funds left over after her project is done will be donated to the American Legion Post and the Canfield War Vet Museum, she said.

“I think it’s importat to honor veterans for their sacrifices. A lot of kids don’t realize the impact veterans have on our lives and what our lives would be like wtithout them fighting for our freedom all those years ago,” she said.

Sarah is the daughter of Michael and Phyllis DeRosa. She has two older brothers, Andrew, 19, and Stephen, 21.

She has been a dancer all her life, including hip hop, tap and jazz, but gave up dancing to play lacrosse at Canfield High School.

“My brother did lacrosse, and I thought it looked interesting, so I gave it a try. I love it,” Sarah said.

In addition to lacrosse, she also is a member of the Leo Club, which is a volunteer organization through the high school that is modeled after the Canfield Lions Club. Leo stands for leadership, experience and opportunity. Members host pasta dinners, food giveaways and other events for the community.

She also babysits, but said she doesn’t have time for a regular job because lacrosse takes up a lot of time.

“I just like helping people,” Sarah said about her drive to volunteer.

To donate to her gofundme account, search for her name on the gofundme website.

To suggest a Saturday profile, contact Features Editor Burton Cole at bcole@tribtoday.com or Metro Editor Marly Reichert at mreichert@tribtoday.com.

mreichert@tribtoday.com

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