By Assemblyman Will Barclay
There are many in our local communities who donate their time and talents to make sure that others do not go without around the holidays.
I like reading the news this time of year and finding stories about charities that were helped or how one person can inspire others to give, and even save a life.
I was fortunate to take part in a local shoe drive recently.
Tithe My Shoes was organized by Mudd Murphy of Central Square who wanted to collect gently worn shoes and boots for those in need. He was inspired by the owner of Discount Shoe Repairs in Syracuse, Ralph Rotella.
Rotella collects shoes every year and donates them to the Rescue Mission.
Thank you to all who dropped shoes off. The local effort produced 197 pairs of shoes, which helped Rotella almost double the shoe donations from last year.
Last year, the drive collected about 4,000 pairs. This year, Rotella collected more than 7,000 pairs of shoes and boots.
Some were brand new and will be put to good use.
Next year, Mudd Murphy wants to start the drive earlier in the season so more can benefit.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting with some quilters who use their talents and fabrics to make quilts for veterans.
At that time, local quilters presented handmade quilts to the Quilts of Valor Foundation, an organization whose mission it is to donate quilts to veterans and those touched by war.
The quilts were beautiful and will keep their recipients warm. In the local paper just this month, another 78 homemade quilts were presented to the Mexico VFW Ladies Auxiliary by the Mexicali Quilters Guild and will be donated to the Syracuse VA Medical Center.
The same group donated 89 children’s quilts to Operation Reindeer, the ministry that provides Christmas gifts for children in need within the Mexico Academy and Central School District. Amazing!
The local paper recently featured a brother who donated a kidney to his sister so she did not have to undergo dialysis three days a week.
He was Upstate University’s first “ABO incompatible transplants;” in this case, the brother, Jeremy Casler, was a perfect match for his sister, Jana Casler, but he did not have the same blood type of his sister. With the help of a specialist, the transplant was a success.
It has been eight months since the operation and the patient is doing well.
Organizations like the Living Donor Foundation provided assistance for the family’s expenses during the procedure.
Many more stories go unwritten.
There are countless others who help in small and big ways.
Many make mittens and hats so kids stay warm in the winter, or even send cards or make a placemat for senior citizen homes, or drop of a tray of cookies to a neighbor.
Others make it a tradition to adopt a family so kids can have Christmas presents under the tree.
There are countless other volunteer efforts, too various to mention here, but one thing is clear: we are a community of givers.
I, for one, am proud to be a part.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.