SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Police raised funds turning the No Shave November initiative into an opportunity to raise funds for a local girl fighting cancer. On Saturday night Sparta Lt. John Lamon and Cpl. Dave Pridham attended the UNICO spaghetti dinner in McKenna Hall at Reverend Brown School to where they surprised UNICO and Melanie DiDonizio-Russo's family with a check for $1,680.
Russo is a freshman at Sparta High School.
President of Sparta UNICO Ray Shupak said, "I was humbled by the response from the members and friends of UNICO which totaled about 120."
The Sparta UNICO Italian American service organization put together the dinner with comedian Uncle Floyd to help Russo as she is being treated for a rare form of bone cancer.
Participating Sparta officers let their beards and mustaches grow for the month, contributing about $50 each to go to the Russo family. Ptl. Thomas Herd, Sgt. Joseph Pensado, Cpl. Scot Elig, Sgt. Adam Carbery, Ptl, Taylor May, Sgt. Robert Fraser, Lt. John Lamon, DSG. Keith Hannam, Chief Neil Spidaletto, Sgt. Frank Schomp, Cpl. Dave Pridham. Cpl. Mark Mastandrea, Cpl. Joseph Antonello, Cpl. Rick Smith, Ptl. Dan Elig, Ptl. Thomas Snyder, Ptl. Timothy Lynott, Ptl. Chris Favaro, Ptl. Eric Finley, Ptl. Steve Guido have all since shaved, Spidaletto reports.
Animal Controll officer Don Critchlaw, Special Officer Phil Coleman, Gail and Alan Fraser, Janice Illingworth, Debra Carbery and Charles and Barbara Collver also contributed, according to Spidaletto.
“Spirits rose as we heard the positive prognosis for Melanie's future and everyone left in happy and seasonal spirits,” Shupak said. “Funds supporting the event and donations are still coming in, but the "Spirit of Giving" is alive and well in Sussex County.”
As many as 50 businesses participated with cash or gifts that were used for the Tricky Tray which was a big hit with the crowd according to Shupak.
UNICO is based on the Italian Heritage where culture, history, food and music are in fashion and the promotion of Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity and Organization form the foundation of its purpose Shupak said.
Sparta UNICO has been continuing the tradition of “Service above Self” since 1998. They meet once a month at the Sparta PAL.