Kenmore-Tonawanda Students, Praxair Mentors Buy Toys for Catholic Charities Visitation Room | News
TONAWANDA, N.Y., May 7, 2012 – Through a mentor program with employees of Praxair, Inc., Holmes Elementary School students raised more than $900 in funds to buys toys and a rocking chair to outfit a Catholic Charities Visitation Room for children in foster care.
On May 2, the second through fifth grade students walked to Praxair, their next door neighbor, and presented the toys and games to Catholic Charities Children’s Services staff.
Each year, those who participate in the weekly one-on-one mentor program between Praxair employees and Holmes students raise funds for a local children’s charity, said Brad Damstedt, who coordinates the program for Praxair.
The students and their mentors held a baked goods sale in the company cafeteria. They raised $420 for their efforts, which Praxair matched with another $500. In addition, Praxair employees donated other toys and games.
With the funds, the mentors ordered a vinyl rocking chair, and purchased games, toys and art sets. All will be placed in the Visitation Room at the Washington Street office in Buffalo where parents visit their children who are currently placed out of the home.
Caterina Plotnicki, Catholic Charities Children’s Services coordinator, explained what it will mean to the children who will use the toys.
Plotnicki said, “The children who come to visit with their parents will have these great games and toys to enhance their time together. Thank you for thinking of our children and thank you for all of your efforts!”
Teacher Kathie Santamaria coordinates the mentor program, which was begun in 1992, for Holmes Elementary School in the Kenmore-Tonawanda School District. Currently, there are 25 mentors in the program.
“The kids always enjoy this program, even the most difficult children,” Santamaria said. “I have seen kids who were the worst behaviorally turn around and become the best academically and behaviorally because they were in the mentor program.”
Damstedt said not only does the program offer students quality time with an adult, a listening ear and help with homework, reading or whatever is needed, it “gives these kids an opportunity they might not otherwise have by exposing them to different career paths and showing them what a job in the science or technical field can be like.”
After the presentation, the mentors ate pizza and salad with the students and then two Praxair employees made chocolate ice cream in front of their eyes using liquid nitrogen, a gas produced by the worldwide provider of industrial gases, including atmospheric, process and specialty gases.
For more information about Catholic Charities services for children, go to www.ccwny.org. Check out Catholic Charities on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ccbuffalo and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ccbuffalo.
Catholic Charities is the most comprehensive human service provider serving all eight counties of Western New York with 70 programs and 61 locations. Founded in 1923, Catholic Charities also provides, without regard to religious affiliation, comprehensive counseling services for children and families, anti-domestic violence programming and emergency services, among other social and mental health services.