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Somers Councilman Leads T-Shirt Drive for Houston

Texas state flag shares Somers' sky with Old Glory at high school's upper field. Credits: Photo Courtesy of Richard Clinchy

SOMERS, N.Y.--Longtime rivals on the basketball court joined hands this week to help the flood-ravaged victims of Hurricane Harvey.

It started with a tweet from the men’s basketball coach at the University of Houston to college coaches, urgently appealing for T-shirts and sneakers. It finished this week with hundreds of shirts, addressed to Houston and shipped with best wishes from Somers and Mahopac.

The costliest natural disaster in decades has flooded much of the Houston area and extended through eastern Texas and into Louisiana. Thousands were forced from their homes, many with only the clothes they were wearing.

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Richard Clinchy, who coaches basketball at Mahopac High School, follows the Twitter feed of Kelvin Sampson, the Houston coach, and saw his appeal to his fellow college coaches. Clinchy ruled out trying to supply new sneakers but felt T-shirts were well within his reach. “Would Sampson,” he replied, “accept high school-level help?” 

He said Sampson responded, “High schools are OK. Anything with good T-shirts is OK. We’re going to need all we can get... We will give them out to the people who need stuff.” 

“I figured I can do that,” Clinchy said. “I’ve got a lot of T-shirts from tournaments—new.” 

Clinchy, a retired teacher, is also a Somers town councilman and former member of the school board. He reached out to Roman Catalino, the athletic director at Somers. The A.D. had already sent some shirts but offered additional ones, left over from Somers tournaments. “I can get those together,” he said. “And the booster club has volunteered even more shirts.”

In Mahopac, Clinchy talked with A.D. John Augusta, who promised to “scour the school” Tuesday in search of T-shirts and to see whether the booster club could contribute as well.

In addition to the school contributions, Clinchy said, Tom Newman, the owner of T3Logowear in Baldwin Place, told him, “I’ll order a hundred [T-shirts], have them here Tuesday, and I’ll help with the shipping.”

Clinchy said he would also seek help from local organizations in defraying the cost of shipping, which he estimated will “probably be a couple of hundred bucks.”

“We’re going to have several hundred T-shirts,” Clinchy said, reflecting on the speed with which the aid package became a reality. “We’re going to put it all together and we’re sending the stuff out on Tuesday or Wednesday.”

The assistance is the result of “a lot of people doing a lot of good things,” he said. “And here’s a specific thing through sports, with Somers and Mahopac cooperating.”

Both schools put on hold their more-traditional competitive posture. “It’s two high schools next door to each other, who have a rivalry, no doubt,” Clinchy noted. “Two athletic directors, two booster clubs, but pooling their resources.”

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