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Woman Organizes Food and Winter Coat Drive In Memory of Late Brother Vincent Miritello

You can donate food and coats through Nov. 19 to support the Food Bank of Westchester County. Winter coats will be donated to local shelters, homeless citizens and anyone in need.

Every year Paula Miritello does a charity in honor of her late brother Vincent, who had cerebral palsy and passed away 11 years ago at age 20. She walks for Special Olympics and collects food and winter coats to keep his memory alive. 

Miritello has been holding the food and coat drive for the past few years, but this year it's on a bigger and grander scale. All donations will be accepted at several locations through Nov. 19, when all efforts will culminate with a party at the Elks Club in Yorktown. There will be crafts, cupcake decorating, dancing and more.

"I will be giving the food to the Food Bank of Westchester and any other charity in need," Miritello said. "The coats will go to the Westchester Coalition for Homeless and Hungry. In addition, I will be taking 150 coats over to Mohegan Park Home for Adults and letting the residents take some of the coats and giving out personally coats on Christmas day with my niece for the homeless in Manhattan on the street."

The Yorktown Girl Scouts Troop Leader Christine Giorgio had also contacted her for a joint effort. The Girl Scouts will be collecting coats at Yorktown Schools and will be writing 150 holiday cards personally to the residents of Mohegan Park Adult Home in Mohegan Lake, which will be delivered with a holiday basket prior to Christmas.

When Miritello's brother, the youngest of six children and who was a student at the Pines Bridge School for the disabled in Yorktown, passed away, she said she felt lost and wanted to help and volunteer in her community. 

She said people might not know much about those who are disabled in their community and many assume if one has a disability, he or she is unhappy. But that's not the case, she said.

"I wish people would understand and love someone that was disabled," she said. "All though [Vinny] did not speak or walk, he communicated and was happier than most people. He never lived his life with jealousy, petty behavior and he was truly pure of heart. I miss him everyday and as I write this the knot in my throat is still there."

She called him "beautiful, giggly, happy" and someone who always had a smile on his face.

Miritello said she hopes people can donate food and clothes and help out those who are still struggling in these tough economic times.

"It takes a group effort to help our community and to make society better," she said.  

This Saturday, you can drop off food and coats between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at "My Brother Vinny Let's Give Thanks Holiday Food Drive" at the Yorktown Elks Club. Miritello urges people to come out and help their community.

"Everything, I am and the woman I have become came solely for loving him and the beauty of his innocence," Miritello said of her brother. "Without wonderful family and friends and a community that supports me this all would not be possible. My brother Vinny is everyone's brother Vinny now and I love that."

In addition, Miritello does the "Special Olympics Miles for Medals Walk" walk-a-thon at F.D.R. Park every year in honor of her late brother.

"Our team 'My Brother Vinny' is currently top team in the county and they are renaming the walk after him to the Vincent Miritello FDR Miles for Medals Walk," she said.

After being in a car accident at the end of January which left her with a broken hip and pelvis in numerous spots, Miritello said she was unable to walk herself in this year's May walk-a-thon.

"Being unable to walk and getting therapy to walk again made me feel even more love and respect for how hard people have it and how strong our disabled community is," she said. "It made me more sensitive to how people are struggling and how an accident can change your life. I was lucky and many are not."

 

To donate food and coats to "My Brother Vinny," drop off locations are at the law office of Sal Lagonia on Commerce Street; the Yorktown Elks Club on Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information contact Paula Miritello at paulam471@aol.com.

Click here for "My Brother Vinny Let's Give Thanks Holiday Food Drive" Facebook page.

Click here for the "Vincent Miritello FDR Miles for Medals Walk" Facebook page.

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KB55 November 16, 2011 at 03:08 AM
Paula is a wonderful person and is always giving her all to help people in need. I hope everyone who is reading this article can please help donate anything they can for her great cause.. The holidays are upon us soon and there are people who are not as fortunate as us and can really use just a little more warmth or a decent meal.. So please help Paula make a small difference in someones life this season.. Thanks
Martin November 16, 2011 at 06:58 PM
After reading this article i was reminded of a poem called A Good Deed Don't let a day go by, without acknowledging, someones good deed. We all like to hear nice things as it helps the one, who's in need. It's not very often, one will go out of their way, by being nice. It's something, one should do often and not have to think about twice. Who doesn't thrive on kindness and being noticed, once in a while? All it takes is a firm shake of the hand and a warm and cheery smile. You get enough of those, who live in their own world and haven't anything, nice to say. They go around, feeling miserable and it rubs off on you, some way. As long as you're able, be kind and pleasant to someone and in the long run, it will be returned. This is a very good lesson, all of us, should have learned! (Audrey Heller) Keep up the good work Paula, and i will be by on Saturday drop off a few coats.
Paula Miritello November 17, 2011 at 01:42 AM
Thank you both for the comments. It makes me feel so blessed and happy to see Vinny honored and for everyone to see his beautiful face. I truly appreciate what everyone has done to honor him throughout all my events. The support and love I receive from my family, my friends and the community help me keep Vinny's memory going strong. Without my huge support system I could not do it all. My boyfriend Kenny :)) is amazing and bares with me. He knows when I have a charity event it means less sleep for him and a lot of extra work. Special thanks in advance to - Yorktown Volunteer Fire Department for allowing me to store the donations items after event and get them ready for distribution. Loretta and Sal Lagonia, Esq, Christine Giorgio and the Yorktown Girl Scouts, The Dyckoff Family, Denise DePerna and Mercadante Deli in Mahopac, Anthony Yorktown Elks Club, Linda/Jan Sunshine Friends Prayer Circle, my niece Tina Miritello (Face Painter), Dana Castellano Zumba Queen, Teresa and the Hudson Valley Special Olympics, my entire family and my love Kenny. In addition, to Plamena from "The Yorktown Patch" for writing this beautiful article and helping the community see Vinny! Everyone please "Like" the Yorktown Patch on FB.
Paula Miritello November 17, 2011 at 01:46 AM
Event Info in more detail - Saturday November 19, 2011 at the Yorktown Elks Club from 10 am to 6 pm. I will be collecting non-persihable food items, coats and warm clothing for the community. From 2 pm to 6 pm on the 19th will be the event party; we'll have cupcake decorating, face painting, crafts, Zumba by Dana Castellano, food and refreshments! You can come and stop by anytime to drop off items and enjoy the celebration to help others.
nicholas miritello November 17, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Thank You for writing article about my sister Paula. Our brother Vinny was a very special person! Paula has done these events in honor of our bother, she has giving so much to her friends and family. This article is awesome it gives recognition to a very good person, and i'm lucky to have Paula as a sister.
Paula Miritello November 17, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Thank you for the beautiful note Nicky! Love you! It was truly touching.
Denise November 18, 2011 at 03:02 AM
Such a wonderful article about a beautiful person... Helping our community and doing so in the name and memory of Vinny makes it (personally) all the more special... I'm so glad that I can help in any way possible for all of your events and am honored to be a part of every one of them - I wouldn't have it any other way :)

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