For nearly a decade, the Uncle Frank Back-to-School Clothing Program has made sure area students have the supplies they need to succeed in education.
More than 100 children this year at Benton Hall Academy in Little Falls and Fisher Elementary School in Mohawk will return to school with a new outfit, a new pair of shoes, a new backpack and other items donated through the program, including crayons, folders, notebooks and pencils.
Individuals and civic groups sponsored a child and purchased the clothing and supplies that will be distributed by coordinators at the schools. This year’s program was coordinated by Kira Andrilla, Ray Lenarcic and David Petkovsek in Little Falls and by Kay Lenarcic and Jan Waterbury in Mohawk.
Volunteers Bev Alwine, Kathy Lowery and Laura Zelman provided assistance.
School nurses recommended children for the program founded by the Herkimer County Hunger Coalition and named after Frank Vespi, a Little Falls man who was murdered near Indianapolis in 2003.
The Uncle Frank Back-to-School Clothing Program is an offshoot of the larger Gram Lorraine Children’s Christmas Clothing Program, which is also under the auspices of the hunger coalition.
“Since their inception, Gram Lorraine and Uncle Frank have benefited thousands of area children while contributing over a million dollars to the local economy,” said Ray Lenarcic, Herkimer County Hunger Coalition founder on Thursday. “The coalition cannot thank enough the hundreds of sponsors whose generosity has made these programs an unqualified success.”
With the back-to-school program behind them, Lenarcic said thoughts are turning to the Gram Lorraine program, which provides children with four items of clothing and a book, game or toy.
“Christmas isn’t far away,” said Lenarcic, adding anyone interested in sponsoring a child in either program can call 867-3375 or write to the hunger coalition at P.O. Box 622, Herkimer, NY 13350.