SOMERS, N.Y. – Nearly 100 children, mostly first-graders, spent an hour and a half on Valentine's Day morning at Primrose School, assembling Red Cross care packages for local children in distress.
The packages are called Steph’s Comfort Kits, in honor of the late Somers resident, Stephanie Crispinelli, who lost her life at the age of 19 while working as a volunteer during the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
“This is the feel-good event of the year,” said Red Cross representative Abigail Adams. “It’s children showing compassion for other children. The event is organized by Stephanie’s first-grade teacher, Patty Jo Kegler, who still teaches at Primrose. So in a way, it’s come full circle.”
Each cellophane-wrapped comfort kit contains a colorful, cozy blanket, a book, a pillow, and a stuffed animal called Steph’s Caring Bear - all the ingredients for snuggling up when life is hard to handle.
“It’s for kids in their darkest hour,” said Adams. “Last year, some of the kits were used within four hours, for kids who suffered in a fire in Mount Vernon.”
This is the second in an event that will be an ongoing tradition, Adams said. Last year, the kids made 100 kits. This year, some second-graders came back to help because they enjoyed it so much last year. This year, the same number of kids produced 150 kits.
It was Stephanie’s mother, Lin Crispinelli, who set up the program with the regional chapter of the American Red Cross. “She wanted it to be a tribute to Shephanie, and she wanted to teach kids early on what it means to give back to others. Since the Red Cross is a volunteer organization, it’s a perfect marriage,” Adams said.
February 15 is Stephanie Crispinelli’s birthday. She would have been 23.