Make A Difference Day: Indoor projects spread cheer

It was less-than-ideal conditions for outside projects Saturday for the 14th annual Make A Difference Day, so many worthy projects took place indoors.

The Guardian Angels of Trumbull County Probate Court hosted a party at the Packard Museum on Friday for local nursing home residents.

“We called it ‘Take a Walk Back in Time’ and brought 75 senior citizens to the Packard Museum  where they saw the cars. Many people told me they remembered these cars from years ago,” said Patricia Hovanic, event coordinator.

Seniors were bused to the museum from eight local nursing homes and health care facilities for the three-hour party. Local businesses donated hot dogs and pizza and guests also had root beer floats.

”It was nice for them to be able to spend the day somewhere different that brought back good memories for them,” she said.

At the event, people had photos taken by a car of their choice. Some members of the Packard Band performed music for the visitors.

At the other end of Trumbull County, volunteers from North-Mar Church helped bring a day of fun and activities to the special-needs residents of the Boyd’s Kinsman Home.

According to Sherry Rinck, administrator at the Boyd’s Kinsman Home, this year marked the second time the volunteers from North-Mar Church have put on Harvest Day at the home for Make A Difference Day.

“The seniors all had a very positive reaction to the activities and the positivity last year,” Rinck said.

For Harvest Day, the volunteers helped the seniors enjoy activities such as pumpkin painting, corn hole, singing and story time. To help get a laugh out of the residents, radiologist Dr. Paul Gould dressed up as a clown.

It was clear the residents were having a great time, and David Rowlands, a resident who still has his brochure from the home’s previous trip to Splash Lagoon, said he loved the activities being put on.

“That was awesome; I don’t want to live anywhere else,” Rowlands said.

Donna Page, who lives at the home with her two sisters, Linda and Peggy, said she loves living in the home and all the activities the staff puts on for the residents, including parties such as Harvest Day, as well as the many field trips.

Once the weather started to clear up, the residents also were taken on hayrides.

Quilts from the Heart met Saturday at Niles United Methodist Church to make blankets, quilts, pillowcases and lap robes. For the past 10 years, the group of more than 40 women has participated on Make A Difference Day by designing specialty coverings with specific patterns and high-quality fabrics for its recipients.

Member Phyllis Abruzzi said the blankets and pillowcases will be distributed to St. Joseph Warren Hospital and Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman. The lap robes and adult blankets will be sent to area nursing homes, she said.

“The first time I read the thank-you cards from kids, I was hooked,” Abruzzi said. “To see how much the blankets meant to them.”

Like last year, Quilts from the Heart also spent Make A Difference Day teaching Girl Scouts how to sew the blankets and pillowcases for distribution. Girl Scout Troop 8009 of Hartford visited the church Saturday to lend a helping hand and contribute to the cause.

Abruzzi said the girls have never sewn before but picked up the skill well.

Quilts from the Heart member Vera Orosz, who worked with Scout Katie Grexa, 10, said she enjoys teaching the Girls Scouts how to sew because she is passing the knowledge and a skill so it doesn’t become a dying art form.

Also on hand were a few women from New Jerusalem Fellowship Church. Iris Harvey said several of the church members also are members of Quilts from the Heart and have participated on Make A Difference Day for the past several years.

In advance, Abruzzi and the group prepares the kits, materials and supplies for the sewing day. She said the group has been working together for more than nine years. To help with material costs, it receives funds from the Raymond John Wean Foundation’s Neighborhood SUCCESS grants as well as the Canfield Lions Club.

Abruzzi said the group also takes donations of both fabric and volunteers. Abruzzi estimated about 30 blankets would be finished by the end of Saturday’s shift. She said Quilts from the Heart will finish the remaining pieces when it meets Tuesdays at the church.

A majority of the residents at Central Park Apartments spent Saturday baking and cooking for the Niles police and fire departments.

For Make A Difference Day, Bonnie Bowden said, the residents united to feed the men and women who are always there when someone is in need.

“They’re always there to help us,” she said.

She said about six dozen cookies, six pies and two pots of chili were prepared for the local civil service workers. She said the residents spent most of the morning prepping the food before calling the Niles Fire Department to pick up the food and deliver it to the rest of the departments.

Patricia Westerman said she baked six pies — including blueberry, blackberry and apple — three for the police and three for the firefighters. The former baker and restaurant owner said she doesn’t view baking as work, just the cleanup.

Bowden said the best part of the Make A Difference Day project is that everyone in the building could contribute. She said although some residents don’t like to or can’t cook, they still could make a monetary donation towards supplies. All together, she estimated about 50 either baked, cooked or donated to the cause.

The Warren Family Mission gave away coats and blankets, with nearly 300 people receiving items. Project coordinator Lisa Dudley said donations were up this year, but the need also is increasing.

Members of the American Association of University Women delivered several boxes and containers of baby and women’s clothing, baby toys and diapers, baby supplies, and blankets to the Bella Women’s Center.

Linda Woodford, a member of the group, said 15 women also were at the center sorting and folding clothes, cleaning windows and helping where needed.

”We had many members of the association as well as friends who donated items. Our executive board does different projects each year and decided to help Bella Women’s Center,” Woodford said.

Tia Ciferno, director of the center, said items will be used for baby baskets given to the mothers and their infants.

Pastor Paul Armitage of North Mar Church said more than 220 volunteers were participating at events at the church or at different locations in the Warren area.

He said at the church a blood drive and dental checks were held, and free haircuts and oil changes for vehicles were provided.

”People could sign up at church for what project they wanted to help with. We had a lot of people who wanted to take part.” Armitage said.

Melissa Cheney said 15 people signed up to make 87 water-bottle care packages for Howland and Warren police to have a bottle with their badge number on them.

She said the idea came from speaking to a Warren police officer who told them how it is nice to have water to drink on hot days driving around in the cruiser.

Also at North Mar, a group of 10 volunteers made 13 tied-knot blankets for the ”Warm Up Warren” effort.

“The church’s slogan is ‘Serving Our World,’ we want to help spread the word of Jesus Christ by being a practical and a physical help to people in the community,” Pastor Myron Daum said. Daum also added that volunteers range from singles to entire families with young children, pointing out that one of the volunteer team leaders is 87 years old.

Correspondent David Dye and reporter Samantha Phillips contributed to this report.

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