December 21 2018,  Revere

Festive (Not) Ugly Sweaters coat drive to benefit needy children this winter

 By Tara Vocino

People got festive last Wednesday at Volare by wearing (Not) Ugly Christmas Sweaters at Coats for Kids, where guests donated toys and winter accessories to needy children.

“I was volunteering at Youth in Action four years ago, and saw that there was one child who didn’t have a winter coat, but that’s one too many,” said event co-organizer Mike DiGangi, who was wearing a Nutcracker sweater.

DiGangi asked the school department if there were more needy children – there were – and that’s how the third annual coat drive was initiated. He organized the drive with Ward 4 City Councillor Patrick Keefe and Matthew Parlante, who were also decked out in Christmas attire.

Donors commented on why they felt led to give this Christmas.

Karen Simonelli gave boys’ and girls’ Land’s End jackets and dolls/Matchbox cars. “There are kids out there who don’t have a warm coat,” Simonelli said. “I feel lucky that I can help.”

Billy Allen, who was dressed in a Christmas suit, donated a Tommy Hilfiger jacket and a tractor trailer car carrier toy. “I wanted to donate something that I’d wear – something in style,” Allen said. “As for the toy, it’s one that they can play with other kids.”

Don and Susan Martelli donated a green jacket, a tea set and a pop-up-game. “Since we’re able to provide for them, that’s the least we can do,” Don Martelli said.

Priscilla Nickerson donated a faux leopard fur coat. “Anyone who can help, why wouldn’t they?” she asked.

Joan Wells, who owns Tiny Treasures Childcare, asked how could she not give back to what she does. Wells donated OshKosh boys’ coats and Mickey Mouse toys. “If I can give back to children, why not?” Wells asked. “Christmas is for kids, and I’m happy to meet their basic needs.”

At the raffle table beside the coat donation, Dante Hibbard was vying to win a month’s worth of yoga. “I’d like to try it,” Hibbard said.

Beside him, Brian and Michael Davis were eyeing the $100 Seaport gift card. “We haven’t been there, and [would] like to try it,” Brian Davis said, who plans to bring his son, Michael. “We have to give – these kids don’t even have homes.”


Tara Vocino may be reached at

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