I HAD the opportunity to rub elbows with a group of kind-hearted and compassionate women Thursday afternoon.
The seven humanitarian ladies were finalizing plans to re-open a most worthwhile venture -- The Belmont County Coat Closet. The closet traces its roots to February 2002 when Margaret Paolucci launched the project.
Its success story is remarkable.
Last year alone, 945 coats were given to those in need from September through January. The local coat closet encompasses a wide area of generosity, aiding individuals throughout the Ohio Valley, including West Virginia.
Coats are given to adults and youths with no identification needed.
The closet would not be possible without the assistance of the Bellaire Christian Church, located on Belmont Street, next to Bellaire High School. The coat closet operates out of room donated by the church at no charge.
It will officially open for the season this Friday.
Paolucci is ably assisted by volunteers Karen Kahl, Paul Paolucci, Audrey Petronek, Shaunna Walker, Wanda Craig, Jeanne Johnson, Mary Swoboda and Leah Monahan.
Craig also donates her time and expertise to knitting scarves from yarn donated by St. John Grade School.
They receive no monetary compensation for the selfless work, but are rewarded by the satisfaction knowing they are making a difference in the lives of people who need it.
The closet's efforts are buoyed by Ohio Valley Christian Soldiers as well as Macy's. Donations from the public also help with costs.
Paolucci is no stranger to community-minded service. In addition to being the founder and director of the coat closet, she served on the State Board of the American Society as well as a variety of positions with United Way and Campfire Girls.
Paolucci has received the Clara Barton Award of the American Red Cross, the Ullom Award for community service and an award from the Salvation Army for organizing the first bell-ringing campaign in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.
MARTINS FERRY Chamber of Commerce held its monthly luncheon Tuesday and Councilman Paul Riethmiller delivered a nice gift, that being a $1,500 check from the city to help the chamber with its annual Christmas-decorating efforts. It is the third year the city has opted to extend financial help.
Riethmiller also said the welcome wall at the intersection of Ohio 7 and Hanover has added two flags -- a POW-MIA flag and another, designating all four branches of the military. He noted the wall will change decor four times a year, pending the season in vogue.
The chamber is also staging a couple of fundraisers. Its initial "Night at the Races" will be held Nov. 11 at Hilltop while the Koeze Nuts sale is now under way.
THE MARTINS Ferry Democrat Committee will be accepting letters of interest from any First Ward resident who is interested in filling an unexpired term for the First Ward Council seat. Letters should be sent to: Phil Wallace, Secretary, 801 Spring Haven Drive, Martins Ferry, OH 43935 no later than Oct. 31.
THE SHADYSIDE Board of Education was approached Wednesday night at its monthly meeting with a proposal to launch a girls' volleyball program. The Tigers are one of the few OVAC schools not to offer the sport. With the success the Shadyside girls have experienced in other sports -- especially hoops -- combined with a healthy enrollment, starting volleyball is a no-brainer.
ASHLEY SCHAFER has been named the successor to Mike Podlasiak as head coach of the Caldwell High girls' basketball team. Podlasiak, a Woodsfield native, has enjoyed a long and successful coaching and umpiring career. He will remain Caldwell High's principal.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Bridgeport Schools Superintendent Ted Downing for stepping to the plate and taking the reigns of the Bulldogs' baseball program. Ted brought a great coaching resume with him to the Ohio Valley. He has done a tremendous job of running the Bridgeport School District, we have no doubts he will have success as the Bulldogs' baseball boss.
MONEY TRIVIA: There is more Monopoly money printed in a year, than real money printed throughout the world. The amount of money in a Monopoly game is $15,140.
Kapral may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org