Jewell Cardwell

“In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to Toys for Tots,” said the Beacon Journal notice announcing the Dec. 8 death of 50-year-old Steven Asa Soohey of Akron. “New, unwrapped toys can be brought to Prentice Funeral Home or monetary donations will be accepted. Steve would want you all to remember ‘to just have fun.’ ”

Wanda Soohey, Steven’s mother, though saddened by her loss, was overjoyed by the response to the request by those who knew Steven — “an avid dart player, motorcycle enthusiast and important member of the BMX community.”

Wanda Soohey said the idea of bringing toys to last Sunday’s funeral came from his children, Greg and Brittany. She estimates that more than 500 toys were delivered which were earmarked for the Salvation Army and other local agencies: “We also had relatives from Pennsylvania and Maine send in [monetary] contributions in Steven’s name to Toys for Tots.”

“The family just wants to thank everyone for doing this,” she continued. “And we thank Steven’s co-workers at Pneumatic in Stow for their support.”

Love to Jersey

Big applause for Sharon Deitrick of the HALO (Hope Always Lives On) Foundation and 93 Cents for Flight 93, who delivered Christmas joy to residents of Ocean County communities in New Jersey who are still living in “tent cities” in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Joey Burke of Road Scholar drove a semi to Seaside Heights, N.J., to deliver Christmas gifts collected by 93 Cents for Flight 93 student leaders in Northeast Ohio, Deitrick wrote. “We particularly want to thank Steven Kolich of Green High School, Cassie Watkins of Northwest High School and Boy Scout Troop 380 of Copley and the students at Lakeview Intermediate in Stow. All of their efforts, along with the residents of Chambrel at Montrose [a senior living community], helped prepare the gifts of joy!”

Deitrick said this is the third semi sent this year to help victims devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

In harmony

Big, beautiful poinsettias to Friends in Harmony, formerly Doctors Wives, who have since 1965 been singing in area nursing homes, rehab and hospice centers and other venues.

“I’ve seen smiles, recollections, sing-alongs and even dancing by our listeners,” wrote member Jan Hoffmann. “I joined the group seven years ago and have seen the caring and unselfish manner these girls give to others. I feel privileged to be part of this dedicated, kind and talented group, not to mention they are happy and fun …

“Some of the original members are still active while a few like Isabel Hershberg [now well into her 80s] have only recently retired.”

Friends of Harmony began its current season with Akron Children’s Hospital’s Tree Festival. It currently boasts 20 members from the Greater Akron/Canton area — Fairlawn, Bath and Copley townships, Medina, Stow and Canton.

Hoffmann credited the excellent direction of Ted Peplowski, whose brother Ken is a renowned jazz clarinetist and saxophonist in Los Angeles and New York. For more information, please email

Kids go shopping

Major kudos to Charter One Foundation, which recently partnered with Akron’s ACCESS, an emergency homeless shelter for women and children, and Canton’s J.R. Coleman Child Care and Family Center to take 70 needy children holiday shopping at the Canton-area Target store.

Each child received a $100 gift card, with Charter One volunteers providing a strong assist. “While many families in our community are facing financial challenges, we hope this holiday event will help them experience the magic of the season,” said Joe DiRocco, president of Charter One and RBS Citizens, Ohio.

Warm thanks

A tip of the hat to volunteers at New Horizons Church for their efforts in making the much-appreciated kid-friendly fleece blankets for Summit County Sheriff’s cruisers.

Because of them and other volunteers, the deputies who encounter children in traumatic situations have something to give them that calms their fears.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or