Leading the way to a happy holiday


By David Dore
Leominster Champion
12/26/14

The looks on the children’s faces made it all worth it.

That’s what some members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster said after delivering around 100 wrapped Christmas gifts for children at Riverside Village Apartments in Leominster on Friday, Dec. 19.

Members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster stand with Rocco Spagnuolo, second from right, the club's advisor, while delivering around 100 toys to Riverside Village Apartments Friday, Dec. 19 David Dore photo

Members of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster stand with Rocco Spagnuolo, second from right, the club’s advisor, while delivering around 100 toys to Riverside Village Apartments Friday, Dec. 19 David Dore photo

“We’re completely overwhelmed by the kindness of the kids over at the Boys & Girls Club,” Riverside Village Apartments Resident Service Coordinator Julie Almy said.

And it was all their idea.

The Torch Club is a “small-group leadership development program … targeted to youth ages 11 to 13,” the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster website states. “Within some 1,300 Torch Clubs across the country, members elect officers and plan and implement their own activities and community service projects. Each Torch Club receives an official charter from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.”

There are 12 members of the local Torch Club: President Abrianna Fusco, Vice President Jelizabeth Amparo, Secretary Nicole Robinson, Treasurer Abigail Kirrane, Emily Eubanks, Ashley Contreras, Rylie Partelow, Xashairys Gonzalez, Nathalia Hernandez, Kendra Grant, Rylee Peters and Corey Thompson.

They decided to host a toy drive at the Boys & Girls Club and bring the donations to Riverside Village Apartments, a 312-unit affordable housing complex off North Main Street (Route 12).

“We figured we’d get a lot, but a lot more than we thought,” said Torch Club advisor Rocco Spagnuolo, unit director of the local Boys & Girls Club.
The toys were given out at a holiday party hosted by the apartment complex Friday afternoon. Some children who received gifts tore open the wrapping paper and see their gift, while others waited until later to discover what was inside.

For Almy, working with the Boys & Girls Club is nothing new. She said she refers residents there as a place to go after school, and she spoke to the Torch Club a couple of weeks ago.

“I’m just completely in awe of the youth who were willing to collect the donations for the kids at Riverside, which is needed for the kids,” Almy said.