By Cary Shuman
Michelle Civiello wanted to do something special to honor her son Dana Stevens’ service in the United States Marine Corps.
So last year Civiello launched a “Toys For Tots” drive to help children enjoy the holiday season.
“Last year was going to be my first Christmas without my son being home, so I started this toy drive to do so something nice for families,” said Civiello.
A graduate of Lynn English High School where he played baseball and was a member of the swim team, Stevens is a U.S. Marine corporal stationed in Okinawa, Japan. He began his service in 2015.
Civiello continued the “Toys for Tots” again this year.
In coordination with firefighter Paul Tucker of the Lynn Fire Department, Civiello was able to gather 367 toys for distribution to children in Essex County. Jason Newhall, head of the Gannon Building Association, assisted the effort by having many toys donated to the drive. Newhall also personally transported the toys to the Fayette Street fire station, which is an authorized toy drop-off station.
“I’m very happy that our efforts will benefit the children of Lynn and surrounding communities where we grew up,” said Civiello.
Stevens was reportedly thrilled by the response to his mother’s effort. He posted a the following thank you note on Facebook to all whom had contributed toys and or intended to contribute:
“I just want to thank each and everyone that has donated or is going to donate or just supporting what my mom is doing. You are making a less fortunate kid’s Christmas better one present at a time. Again I can’t thank you enough. So much love for all of you.
Civiello expressed her gratitude to Tucker for his collaborative efforts and Newhall for his group’s generosity.
“I couldn’t have done this without their assistance,” said Civiello.