Jeffrey C. Thomas was moved by the plight of Heather Galioto, 36, a Stow wife and mother of five children ages 2 to 18, who has an extremely aggressive form of brain cancer. So he decided to show up at a fundraiser to surprise her with a gift.
Ironically, it was made possible after the Sept. 23 death of his father, Dr. Russell L. Thomas, an Akron neurosurgeon who had battled a number of difficult diagnoses including several types of cancer.
“In his obituary, I suggested in lieu of flowers donations should be made to the Alpha Excel Foundation,” Jeffrey Thomas noted. “I further stated that ‘all funds raised will be used for the benefit of neurosurgical patients in Akron, Ohio.’ You’d be surprised how hard it is give away relatively small amounts of money. …
“That’s when I read your article of Nov. 16 concerning Heather Galioto. I did a fair amount of due diligence. … It truly is a tragic story. From everyone I have spoken to, she is a terrific lady with a great attitude. I therefore decided to bring $3,500 worth of checks to her ‘No One Fights Alone’ benefit. …
“It was a rather moving experience,” he continued. “I gave Heather the envelope. She peeked inside, saw the check made out to her for $1,000 and immediately began shaking and crying. As she was hugging my girlfriend and I repeatedly, her husband came over to see what all the commotion was about. When she was showing him the envelope, she realized there were five more checks for $500 each, one for each of her children, and the process started all over again. …
“Another interesting tidbit was that Heather had her MRI scan that led to her diagnosis on the same day we decided to discontinue life support on my dad. Her 2-year-old son’s birthday was the same day [Sept. 19].”
Soccer balls donated
When I published a request on behalf of four Kent State University students from Haiti who wanted regulation-size soccer balls to take with them over holiday break to the children in their hometown of Quanaminthe — still devastated by the 2010 earthquake — I had no idea what the response would be.
“Soccer is a big sport in the country, and a single ball can serve to provide many young Haitians with a lot of joy and satisfaction,” George R. Garrison, professor of Pan-African studies, had explained in his email on behalf of Sony Ton-Aime, Florvilson Jumior Marcelin, Venix Cador and Jodex Saint-Vil.
Many, many thanks to the individual contributors who literally went running to bring soccer balls. A total of 370 were collected, including 50 from a reader in Pakistan.
Jennifer Bishop and Chuck Hamad personally delivered 260 balls to a grateful Garrison. But why?
“The simple answer is opportunity plus timing,” Jennifer Bishop wrote. “Chuck [who owns Hamad Tire] had been running a marketing promotion, offering soccer balls to customers, and now that soccer season is over, his inventory was high and the demand low. And then we read your column, and thought we could share some of our good fortune with others.”
Who knows just how far-reaching their gifts and those of other donors will be? Perhaps a child, living so long without hope, will find his or her future in with the kick of that soccer ball.
And there’s this: “My boss is going to India in February on a charity mission,” Jennifer Bishop said. “When her car was at the store last week for new tires, Chuck secretly put 50 soccer balls in her Jeep to take to the children there. You can imagine her surprise and appreciation when she realized what was in her trunk!”
Support for school
Big, beautiful bouquets to Akron’s First Congregational Church, which has had an ongoing support program with Akron’s Mason Community Learning Center for 10 years, offering everything from tutoring services to a huge Christmas gift-giving campaign.
Congregant Maggie Grigsby, who is in charge of this mammoth outreach, helped supervise what sounded like a mammoth assembly-line gift wrapping this week of gifts for needy families there.
“We adopt families and furnish them with everything a family might need — new coats, hats, gloves as well as school uniforms and more.”
Grigsby said the relationship with the school began when Dr. Jay Groat, the church’s pastor, was involved with Leadership Akron, and noticed that many of the students were coming to school in the winter without coats. The project mushroomed from there, including funding field trips and adopting 25 to 30 families at Christmas.
Grigsby works with the school’s speech therapist Mina Riazi in identifying the families in need, and is so well known there that students call her “Miss Maggie.”
Sounds like Miss Maggie and other church members will be getting scores of thank-you cards and Christmas cards from the Mason family, grateful for their over-the-top caring and generosity.
WeatherSeal Home Services at 227 Munroe Falls Ave., Cuyahoga Falls, is again collecting new or gently used coats, hats, scarves, gloves and new boots and toys for Salvation Army’s Christmas distribution to families in need Dec. 20-21. Hours for drop-offs are 9 to 11 a.m. today.
A Girl Scout troop from Cuyahoga Falls will help collect and box the items.
Food and toys donated
Major kudos to the Edinburg Township (Portage County) Fire Department, which conducted a community food/toy drive at Pettigrew Hardware to benefit clients of the Back Door Food Pantry.
Chief Timothy J. Paulus called the community support “phenomenal” and wants to thank all of the participants for their generosity. “Our goal is to make this an annual event,” he said.
Help for shelter
Big, beautiful bouquets to a coterie of women who orchestrated a recent party fundraiser to benefit Safe Landing, a Summit County children’s homeless shelter. Party guests were asked to bring a much-needed donation: basic toiletries, household items, nonperishable food or clothing.
Jeanette Foster, spokeswoman for the cause, said donations are still being accepted during normal business hours at Twin Oaks Realty, 2003 W. Market St., Akron.
Last year’s event raised nearly $5,000 in monetary and in-kind donations. Hosting this campaign are Ruby Kofsky, event founder, Deborah Loughborough, Sheila Bashor, Kristin Owen, Heather Connell, Jennifer Curley, Luann Maynard, Jennifer Ringer, Christina Miner and Jeanette Foster.
For more information, call Twin Oaks at 330-867-9990.
Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or email@example.com