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Friends donate blood in honor of Vedovelli

EAST LONGMEADOW Friends and family of Heidi Vedovelli will be hosting a Blood Drive at Elite Image Salon and Spa, at 489 North Main St. on Sept. 21 from noon to 6 p.m. The event is being sponsored by Elite Image Salon and Spa and Lyndale Garage Springfield. Ice cream sundaes, desserts and beverages will be served. Vedovelli was diagnosed with Lennerts Lymphoma in July. Lennerts is an aggressive T-cell Lymphoma which has invaded her lymph system as well as her bone marrow decreasing her body's ability for normal blood cell production. In the last seven weeks, while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, she has received over 14 units of whole blood and over 10 units of platelets. "Friends and family have been asking what they can do for me," she said. "My friends and I decided hosting the blood drive and raising awareness, in the community, about the need for blood and platelets was the best way to help. I never thought I would be in a situation to need so much and working together and coordinating with the Baystate Blood Donor Program has been wonderful for my spirits. While platelets can't be donated at the drive, Vedovelli hopes individuals will consider calling the platelet donor center a 794-4610 and making an appointment. Platelet donations can take from 45 minutes to two hours based on the individual. Organizers have set a goal of 100 units of blood. Call Vedovelli at 525-3942 to reserve a time. Walk-ins are also welcome. *** In addition to the blood drive, Vedovelli, former PTO president at Meadow Brook School is hoping to raise community involvement in reward programs offered to our schools. There are several local and many national reward programs that provide both cash and merchandise to our schools that people are not aware, according to Vedovelli. "I am hoping that by printing this information the community will become more involved and our schools will reap the benefits," she said. "Locally, we have the Big Y Express points and the Stop and Shop A+ programs. Both require individuals to register their store savings card and designate a school for the points to be donated to." "The Big Y Express program allows schools to purchase merchandise or supplies including furniture, books and computer software with the points earned," Vedovelli continued. "This program runs through Dec. 31. Currently there are only 1,690 participants registered for our five public schools. This number represents only 16 percent of our towns voting population. Increasing participation by just 10 percent for the last four months of the program can have significant effects." To learn more or to register visit www.bigy.com/education or register at a local Big Y. Re-registration is required. The Stop and Shop A+ program runs from Oct. 3 to April 2 this school year. This program provides cash payment to the designated school based on the total purchases of the participants compared to the total participants. Registration is required annually. To register by the Oct. 3 deadline or to learn more visit, www.stopandshop.com/aplus. National programs include Box Tops for Education, Campbell's Labels for Education, My Coke Rewards and Tyson Project A+. Each of these programs requires individuals to collect emblems, UPCs, codes or package covers to be redeemed for cash or merchandise. The Box Tops for Education is one of the most popular and has proven worthwhile over the years, according to Vedovelli. "This program allows each school to earn up to $20,000 annually in cash for redeeming the little box top emblem from hundreds of products," she said. "To date none of our local schools has earned more than $2,000 in a single year. However, that means we missed out on $18,000." "I have had parents of older students say they used to participate in these programs but have stopped," Vedovelli continued. "My comment is always 'why' when the schools need your continued support and it could help decrease the school's budget requests to the town . thus our taxes." To learn more about each aforementioned program visit, www.boxtops4eduction.com; www.labelsforeducation.com; www.mycokerewards.com; www.tyson.com/projectaplus.

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