By Steve Svetovich
When the going gets rough, the tough get going. Take the Dunmore football program, for instance.
Tom DePietro, with the Coronavirus emerging in Lackawanna County and with a shutdown in place, knew he could not let customers walk into his Dunmore pharmacy.
But there was still a job to do. He still needed to get his customers needed supplies and medicines during a national pandemic.
So he called Dunmore Bucks football coach Kevin McHale to see if any of his players could help.
Well, within 20 minutes, numerous current and former players texted him.
“I could not believe the immediate response,” the owner of DePietro’s Pharmacy said.
“I made a decision to not allow customers to enter the store for their and my co-workers safety. In a panic, I realized I would need help assisting customers curbside. My first thought was to text coach Kevin McHale.
“Within minutes I had over 20 kids reaching out and offering support.
“It is truly humbling to see these kids provide care and compassion during a pandemic. They easily could have elected not to get involved.
“I’m so proud of the kids, their parents, coaches, teachers and Dunmore. Over and over the Dunmore community finds a way to shine. We will all get this together in true Dunmore fashion. The Dunmore community always comes together.”
DePietro said the group of current and former Dunmore football players wear protective gear, masks and gloves. “We have a safety huddle before every shift,” he said.
The current and former Dunmore football players who volunteer at DePietro’s Pharmacy include Billy DonVito, Pat DonVito, Keiran Reyes, Zach Cruser, Jerry Sanchez, George Mesko, Kamryn Reyes, Mike Giannetta, Ross Cordaro and Sean Pietruszkiewicz.
Billy DonVito played four years of football at Dunmore, graduating in 2019. He was a freshman end at Springfield College this past year. He was one of the first to volunteer his time.
“When someone who gives so much and reaches out for help,” he said, “it is our job and duty to get there. We rounded up the guys and are going to help till the Pandemic is over. We have three guys always there 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and three there 2 to 6 p.m.
“We wait outside in full gear. We wait for a customer to pull up and we run the order inside the store in a basket. We wear gloves, masks and take all precautions. We have no close interaction with the customers and wipe everything down constantly.
“When we heard there was a chance to help, the word spread quickly and a bunch of us volunteered.”
Coach McHale was not surprised by the turnout. “Community service has always been a big part of our football program,” he said. “Our kids do a great job with it.
“Tom DePietro and DePietro’s Pharmacy are some of our biggest supporters. When Tom was in need of assistance, some of our players were quick to lend a hand.”
The football players go through a daily pre-shift meeting of guidelines they must follow. The guidelines begin with washing and wearing gloves. The young men must stay six feet away from customers and stand to their side. Every so often, they must return to wash their hands again and change gloves.
The business continues to serve hundreds of customers a day during the state-wide shutdown.
DePietro, a 2002 Dunmore graduate, credited coach McHale and former Dunmore coach Jack Henzes for molding the football players into fine young men.
Not even a national pandemic can pull this community apart.
“These kids’ parents, teachers and coaches raised them right. It’s a credit to these kids, their parents and the whole community.”