Originally published in the Southington Citizen.
There’s no minimum age for compassion for the unseen have-nots in a community, certainly not in Southington, CT. Attesting to that is the generous work of the heart of two 6th grade, eleven-year-old boys. Jonathan Kryzanski and Jonathan Pierson have been friends since the age of six when they played soccer together. Since then, their friendship has grown, extending beyond sports to other mutual interests, such as joining STEPS, (Southington Town-wide Efforts to Promote Success), a movement that has itself grown very successfully in the three years since the program was established under a grant from a federal agency and a great deal of work and effort by a small legion of organized local volunteers from every sector of town.
With results successful beyond expectations, on Thursday, December 15th, Lester Pierson , the boys’ soccer coach and Jon P's dad, drove them down to Southington Community Services to deliver two large boxes of toys. Greeted by volunteer, Jeri Matyczyk, they told her their story very politely and respectfully. Matyczyk listened with delight, warmly thanking them for their hard work and generous spirit, "These fine young gentlemen presented themselves very courteously even shaking hands with me," Matyczyk said. Accepting her words of appreciation with a bit of embarrassment at the praise they pointed out that it had been their fellow students who came through. But Matyczyk saw how happy they were that the toys were welcome and that they would be a nice surprise to the kids receiving them.
Impressed, Matyczyk told them a story about a boy who did not have a pair of sneakers to wear. His mother had come to Southington Community Services and said that he would be thrilled to have a pair of Nikes, something he never had. Matyczyk explained that as needs come to their attention they make lists of them with contact names and anonymously distribute the needs on these lists to prospective donors around town. "Would you believe," she told the boys, "the other day two pairs of sneakers, were donated, one of them Nikes. I contacted the mother and she came in with her son. Can you imagine how happy that little boy was when he came in and received his first ever pair of Nikes?" According to Lester Pierson, the father of Jon P, both the boys were speechless.
Halina Kryzanski, Jon K’s mom, told us how happy the boys were busily working on the toy drive, carefully taking care of all the details to be sure they were doing everything possible to promote interest.
Jon P said that he was happy because it was a project that he and his friend could do together and he agreed with Jon K that they were happy that other kids would have toys to play with on Christmas. We learned from the parents that the boys realize how much they have and it really meant a lot to them to help other kids less fortunate.
Janet Mellon, Southington Community Services' executive director, said these two boys are a fine example of the giving spirit of Southington. "I may not be very knowledgeable about STEPS, but they’re obviously doing some great things with our kids, not to mention the support of parents and our schools"
Mellon also noted that the success of the 'Toys for Tots' drive was a remarkable bonus to the neediest children, especially in augmenting the efforts of the Police Department's 'Stuff a Cruiser' toy drive, adding, "Who knows better than they, what other kids want?"
It’s rewarding to contemplate the smiles of surprise on the faces of children this year when Santa Claus arrived.