Pictured here, from left, are: Jim Aita, Dunmore Lions Club president; Sam Sebastianelli, DLC treasurer; Fireman John Maleski, Police Chief Sal Marchese, and Jim Colangelo, DLC secretary.
In these challenging times, the Dunmore Lions Club (DLC) has responded to the realities facing this community. Recently, the DLC distributed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Dunmore Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Dunmore Health Care Center.
The items were purchased by the local District 14-H Council from a $10,000 grant issued to our District from the Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF). The LCIF has granted $3.5 million worldwide to provide immediate relief to communities severely impacted by the coronavirus (CO-VID-19) pandemic. This is a classic example of the LCIF giving back to local clubs and communities.
The Dunmore Lions have also contributed monetarily to the Weinberg Northeast Regional Food Bank, Saint Joseph’s Center and Saint Francis Kitchen.
‘Tis the season, and that means it’s a busy time for Santa and his elves at the North Pole. And with the Dunmore Police Department’s second annual toy drive well underway, it’s also a very busy time at Santa’s satellite workshop inside the Borough Building.
Thomas Richardson is a patrolman with the Dunmore Police Department. He’s held that title for 16 years, proudly serving the place he, his wife, Kristina, and their three daughters, Emily, Abigail and Madelyn, call home.
A few years ago, Richardson gained another title when he was named coordinator of the borough’s annual National Night Out.
“National Night Out is an event that is supposed to bring the communities and the police together, to not make us these unapproachable people with a badge…who are sometimes portrayed as these scary people,” said Richardson.
Some of the monetary donations brought in from National Night Out help cover various equipment and training officers at the DPD need. The rest of those bucks go right back to Bucktown to help families in need all year round, but especially around the holidays.
It was just after last year’s event when Richardson’s wheels started spinning: How can the department go “a step above” and give even more back to the community?
He pitched the idea of a holiday toy drive to his colleagues, and everyone was on board. A group of officers formed a committee. One officer even offered to dress as Santa Claus when they handed out the toys. The team then got in contact with the Dunmore School District.
“We ended up having teachers at the school, give out to every student… a want and need list for Christmas,” Richardson said.
LAST YEAR: Dunmore Police cruisers were stuffed with toys collected from the community.
“You have the kids who say they wanted an Xbox or a PlayStation. Then you have the kids who really were in need. Kids said they needed dryers. There were kids who said all they wanted for Christmas was a ham or a turkey…or a Christmas tree.”
The Dunmore Police put out a call to businesses in the borough, asking them to participate, and to simply say this effort “took off” would be selling it short. Frankly, it exploded into something bigger than Richardson, his fellow officers or even Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick could have ever imagined.
“The donations were endless,” Richardson explained, “and they were from near and far. I had business people from well outside our area calling me saying ‘What can I do?’ We’d have officers go on calls and people would say “Oh, I saw this on Facebook, I want to donate.’”
One business donated 20 bicycles, brand new and still in the boxes. Another donated hundreds of footballs, basketballs and soccer balls. You name it, and odds are someone donated it.
Lots of folks also donated money and gift cards, which Richardson and the rest of the toy drive committee put to good use.
Thomas Richardson is shown with the family of Cayden Orr. With donations from last year’s holiday toy drive, the Dunmore Police Department purchased a wheelchair lift and had it installed at Cayden’s home.
“One kid, his father carried him to his school bus because he was wheelchair bound. So with the monetary donations we purchased a wheelchair lift [for him].”
Last Christmas, the DPD was able to help out more than 130 children. It was a gratifying and humbling project that took a lot of time and work, which did not go unnoticed by their boss, Dunmore Mayor Tim Burke.
“It’s a really good group effort led by Tom. The police force…the DPW, the firemen, all the restaurants and businesses… Everybody helped out to make things brighter for the children during Christmastime,” said Burke.
“And with Tom, there are so many hours that he puts in. I should say more than hours — days of his own time — just to make Dunmore a better place, and I’m just so happy we have him.”
Richardson calls last year’s toy drive “an overwhelming success.” It was a project he was happy to play a small role in and one he hopes will have even more success this year and in the years to come.
“For a lot of those kids, I truly do believe it was the Christmas they always wanted or saw on TV, but they were able to live it. It hit home to all of us…and gave a whole new meaning to Christmas.”
If you’re interested in participating in this year’s holiday toy drive, donations can be dropped of at the Dunmore Borough Building, Fidelity Bank’s location on North Blakely Street, Riccardo’s Market and DePietro’s Pharmacy.
Cayden Orr, in front, is shown with members of the Dunmore Police Department and Moreland Collective. From left: Mike Igoe, Dunmore Police Department; Nicole Sullivan, Moreland Collective, Cayden’s father, James Orr; Tom Richardson, Dunmore Police Department; Mayor Tim Burke of Dunmore; Meghan Lennox Gagorik and Melissa Lennox, both of Moreland Collective.
Throughout the month of December, the Dunmore Police Department, with the assistance of local marketing agency Moreland Collective, hosted a fundraising event for local children in an effort to provide a merry holiday to all.
During the fundraising efforts, it was brought to the attention of the department that a wheelchair-bound student at Dunmore School District was living without a much-needed chairlift at home. After a very successful month, the department raised enough funds to install the lift and called upon various local businesses to help with the installation.
Edwards Concrete Company, DPW workers, and AmeriGlide teamed up with Dunmore Borough Council, Mayor Tim Burke, and Borough Manager Vito Ruggerio to install the lift, each one playing an integral role in the installation process. Monetary donations from area sponsors Keystone Sanitary Landfill, DePietro’s Pharmacy, and Fidelity Bank helped fund the project.
James Orr, father of Cayden Orr, who required a lift, says, “ I would like to thank the Dunmore Borough and their departments, especially the Police Department and Captain Tom Richardson for all their work, generosity and help with getting my son, Cayden, his lift.
“You have no clue how appreciative my family is for the lift. It has helped greatly getting Cayden to his school van and my vehicle. We would not have been able to afford such a lift, or even get it approved by insurance.”
Mr. Orr, adds, “The borough has come up extremely big for my family. I extend my sincere gratitude to all who helped.”
Dunmore Police Officer Thomas Richardson states, “It was brought to our attention by the school district that this student’s father was carrying him to and from the vehicle each day while also caring for his other children. Our officers unanimously agreed that this was a project we wanted to take on knowing that ultimately, we would be giving a child more freedom. I don’t believe there is any better feeling than that.”