Wednesday night's Board of Supervisors meeting in the Administration Building was full of community members and accolades for them.
The meeting began by Supervisors' recognition of the positive efforts by Northampton citizens and servicemen that made a beaming Chairman George Komelasky say, “This is what makes Northampton a great place to be.”
The supervisors and Pete Palestina of the Marine Corps League led a Patriots ceremony to welcome home Army Specialist Ryan Berk. Accompanied by his family, friends and many fellow supporting citizens, including children from St. Bede’s, Berk was presented with awards from both Representatives Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8) and Scott Petri (R-Bucks). Palestina handed Berk his Army flag that had been residing in the patriots display and it was replaced with an American flag.
Many students and families from St. Bede's came out to support Berk and cheered throughout the ceremony, displaying the community feel Komelasky praised several times.
In addition, Army Major Eric Swenson's parents, Janet and Ray Swenson, returned his Army flag to be placed in the display for the third time for his deployment to Afghanistan. He also served in Iraq in 2003 and 2005.
Three young Northampton citizens were awarded Distinguished Citizens Awards for their efforts to help those in devastation after the earthquake in Japan.
The Trojak children – Katie, 10, Michael, 8, and Kristina, 6 – went to their parents and insisted they needed to help. No strangers to philanthropy, the siblings have previously helped with an Alex’s Lemonade Stand, walked in the CHOP Childhood Cancer Walk and gave up their spare time in many other ways to light up the lives of those around them.
This time, the kids worked with their principal Michael Ried and another teacher, Maureen Grissell, to ask families of Maureen M. Welch Elementary to donate blankets, soaps, cotton balls and other items. They worked with a local Starbucks to put a collection box in the store, drew posters and eventually decided to include New Zealand and the homeless population in Philadelphia, their mother Lori wrote in a statement.
The children stopped at no obstacles. They needed money to ship the items so they raised funds for that as well. The money raised from soliciting the girls' Girl Scout troops and a local business came within $5 of the shipping cost, Lori Trojak said.
"Thank you to everyone who donated," Katie Trojak said.
Her brother added, "This wouldn't have happened without everyone at my school."
The meeting segued smoothly into another donations-related community effort: Socks for Soldiers. Volunteers brought in boxes, bags and overflowing containers of white military socks donated to the Socks for Soliders program over the past few months and they filled the floor in front of the dais.
Supervisor Vincent Deon led the short presentation, which featured Famous Footwear District Sales Manager Tony Folin.
Folin spoke about Famous Footwear's involvement in the program.
"Socks for Soldiers inspiried my team and our company," Folin said. "This has just become contageous."
He added that not just the five local stores but all 16 regional stores are now participating in the program through November by placing boxes in their stores. In addition, Wigwam Socks has agreed to match every pair donated.
Even local elementary students from Rolling Hills Elementary decided to get involved. They raised 332 pairs of socks to donate to the program.
Kathy Croak, who took her son's simple request for white boot socks for batallion, read a short statement thanking everyone involved with tears in her eyes.
Socks for Soldiers is still taking donations for white boot socks and money to help ship the items overseas.