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The Blade's Acts of Kindness 2015


BLADE STAFF


Flight attendant’s expertise with CPR saves retired pilot, Dec. 25

A flight attendant for 14 years, Jennifer Patterson is always on alert for signs of trouble with her passengers.

Still, it turned out the Oregon woman’s instincts and first aid training were needed most on the ground after a retired pilot she invited to her family’s Thanksgiving dinner went into cardiac arrest Nov. 26.

“You don’t want the unexpected to happen but you always have to be prepared for it,” she said.

Ms. Patterson, 44, pulled Bohdan “Bud” Kociuk, 74, out of his car where he had gone to get some fresh air after dinner and performed chest compressions while screaming for her other guests to call 911. When Mr. Kociuk came to, he had no idea what had happened.

“The first thing Bud said was, ‘How did I get on the ground?,’” Ms. Patterson recalled. “I said, ‘You’re breathing. That is what you need to know.’”H.99

 

Owens Corning Foundation donates $100,000 to Cherry Street Mission, Dec. 24

Inside and out, the former Macomber High School site has been transformed.

Workers replaced more than half of the gymnasium’s hardwood floor. They updated restrooms throughout the building. A leaking roof, crumbling parking lot, and broken lighting system were all repaired.

On Wednesday, the Cherry Street Mission Ministries received an extra holiday-season boost to its restorative efforts. The Owens Corning Foundation donated $100,000 to the Life Revitalization Center, 1501 Monroe St., for practical job training and aid for the area’s homeless.

 

Salvation Army toy distribution draws crowd, Dec. 23

Darkness still covered Toledo when Jolyn Richie lined up outside the Salvation Army’s downtown office.

Her car had broken down in recent weeks, which meant the West Toledo resident could no longer get to her job at a Rossford fast-food restaurant.

Suddenly unemployed, the mother of two found herself unable to buy Christmas gifts for her children.

When she heard about the Salvation Army’s first Christmas toy distribution, which occurred last week, Ms. Richie was still employed.

Now just days before Christmas, she was running out of options, so she came to the Salvation Army office on Erie Street at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, hours before doors were to open, hoping to get some last-minute gifts.

 

Police enforce fun for 130 kids during annual shopping patrol, Dec. 22

Neveah Roberts couldn’t contain herself.

“We made it, we made it,” the 4-year-old screamed as if she had won the lottery. “We made it to Anna!”

Anna being, in this case, a doll depicting a main character in the popular movie Frozen.

Neveah was one of 130 Toledo-area children who took part in the seventh annual 12 Kids of Christmas event, organized by the Toledo Police Department and Feet on the Street, a local nonprofit group. It pairs children aged 5 to 14 with law enforcement officers for a shopping spree at the Meijer store on Alexis Road.

 

Boy collects, donates blankets to help homeless stay warmDec. 21

Peyton Fisher doesn’t remember when he first saw homeless people in Toledo.

He only knows it was downtown. And he knew he wanted to help.

The 7-year-old Ottawa River Elementary School student asked his mom about people he saw sleeping on the streets or asking for change. He didn’t quite understand at first, mother Lyndy Minkowski said, and asked how someone could become homeless. His parents tried to explain.

One day, she said, Peyton came to her and asked, “What can we do to help them?”

 

W. Toledo carolers build a horse-drawn traditionDec. 20

Somewhere along the way, a kid might catch a glimpse of Mrs. Claus.

Maybe she’s running out in front of a horse-drawn carriage of carolers, or perhaps she’s doing a quick cartwheel and darting out of sight.

That — seeing Mrs. Claus and Santa — is 5-year-old Colt Harman’s favorite part of his family’s caroling tradition.

 

Office works to give gifts to needy family, Dec. 19

John Mangas doesn’t know much about the family that his real estate office has taken on to help this Christmas. He doesn’t know what they do, or how they came to be in such dire straits. He just knows they need a hand.

And that’s enough.

“We don’t want to know where they live. We don’t need to know their names, but we do want to help those families that have a very specific need,” said Mr. Mangas, co-owner of ReMax Preferred Associates in Toledo. 

 

Otsego teenager used kindness to battle cancer, Dec. 18

Otsego High School sophomore Calysta Bevier defied the odds, first by getting ovarian cancer at 15 and then, after successfully fighting it off, going on a wild ride to fame that has included an appearance on national TV and singing events throughout the region.

But her story doesn’t end there: The Bevier family, inspired by the greater Toledo area’s support, has adopted a pay-it-forward mentality.

Calysta’s parents, Adam Bevier and Missy Mason-Bevier, see acts of kindness as the family’s new mission. They are using Calysta’s harrowing experience with cancer to instill life lessons about the power of faith and hope in their four children.

“So many people gave to us,” Mr. Bevier said. “We’re the lucky ones.”

 

Project Toledo takes cues from practicality for cold-weather aid, Dec. 17

A hat and a pair of gloves can make a world of difference on a cold night outside.

Blair Johnson knows this, which is why he and two friends are taking it upon themselves to provide warm items to those in Toledo who need them most. Mr. Johnson, 25, along with friends Raina Dawson, 27, and Melody Anderson, 27, spent much of the day Dec. 5 distributing cold-weather gear in downtown Toledo.

They gave out more than 200 sets of hats and gloves, as well as some thermal socks. Downtown stops included the library, bus stops, and near the Cherry Street Mission.

Their outing was the first official business of Project Toledo, a new group they have created with hopes of building it into an official nonprofit. Mr. Johnson said he is applying for 501c3 nonprofit designation and registering the name with the state. Until then, he and his friends are doing it on their own. The clothing donations are a small gesture that makes a big difference, Mr. Johnson said.

 

Kids scatter scarves for those left in cold, Dec. 16

The good Samaritans at a local grade school are working to make sure the homeless and others in need are prepared for the harsh Midwest winter.

Colorful scarves were deliberately hung and pinned to shrubs and trees at the Valentine Theatre during a recent morning matinee of the Christmas Carol.

“I am not lost!” a message on tags attached to the scarves reads. “If you are stuck out in the cold, please take this to keep warm!”

The do-gooders responsible for the act of kindness are students of St. Pius X Catholic School in West Toledo. The 18 third graders and 19 fourth graders were among about 900 children from area schools who attended the performance, an annual tradition at the historic, downtown theater.

 

Secret Santa makes presents felt, Dec. 15

For 14 years, one Toledo-area woman has taken it upon herself to be the region’s secret Santa.

The anonymous woman works each year to provide Christmas presents for more than 100 children throughout the area, making her list and checking it twice.

She spends the entire year accumulating gifts. Not even her helpers know her name. She just goes by Secret Santa.

“I buy gifts all year long looking for clearance and sale items,” the special shopper said. “People ask me if I miss [not seeing the children] open the presents. I don’t. I’m sitting with my family Christmas morning knowing kids are opening gifts that otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Gingerbread to sweeten hospital stays, Dec. 14

There’s some dispute about how “Sage’s Gingerbread Dream” came to be.

Sage Demeo, 9, said she was in bed one night and asked her mother, Shelly Varelli, why they make gingerbread houses every year when all they do is crumble.

Ms. Varelli remembers watching television with her daughter and being asked if all children put together gingerbread houses.

“That is not how it came up at all,” Sage said. “No. Not at all. Whatsoever. No.”

No matter how they got there, the West Toledo family has started a gingerbread-donation drive, hoping to collect gingerbread-house kits to distribute to children at ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital and to various homeless shelters in Toledo. 

 

FoodieCards raise funds to fight girl’s rare illness, Dec. 13

Two grandparents’ decision to attend a Toledo Mud Hens game on July 13, 2014, has had far-reaching results for a group of northwest Ohioans and it’s impacted people around the world.

All that was needed was an oversized yellow bird, a giant green frog, and Good Samaritans.

Rick Stewart, the grandfather of Carly Kudzia, was given tickets by his employer, Toledo Refining Co., to a suite at Fifth Third Field on what happened to be mascot promotion day. As he and his wife, Sandra, bounded through the corridors, they met Samphibian the frog, the mascot for FoodieCards.

Mr. Stewart struck up a conversation with Sam’s handler, Gary Ross, and in a matter of days, a new charitable effort was formed. 

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