By Terence Clarey
It would be the destiny of either the Medford or Somerville High School football teams competing in last Friday night’s game at Dilboy Field to come away with their first victory of the season, but the biggest winners would be the citizens of Hoboken, New Jersey.
At the entrance to the stadium Friday night, spectators were greeted by volunteers standing behind several blue recycle bins who encouraged them to donate items including flashlights, batteries, blankets, clothes, bottled, heavy duty garbage bags, work gloves, winter coats and school supplies. All of these items are to be sent to the people of Hoboken who have borne the brunt of Hurricane Sandy and have been flooded out of their homes. Those spectators who donated received a dollar off the price of admission.
The idea came together after a Medford resident had seen news reports of people in New Jersey who are dealing with flooding and going without power and bare necessities as a result of the storm. He contacted the Hoboken mayor’s office and they told him that anything that could be donated to the people affected by the storm would be welcomed. The resident then contacted a friend, Somerville Boy’s Soccer Coach George Scarpelli, who in turn appealed to Somerville High School Athletic Director Nicole Viele. She then contacted Medford High School Athletic Director Bobby Maloney to see what they could do in unison.
“One of our coaches, (Scarpelli) is going to Hoboken next Friday, and we decided that since some of the people he is going with are from Medford we would do this Medford-Somerville hurricane relief effort,” said Viele.
The effort began a week and half ago when Maloney posted information about it on the Medford High School Website and Viele, working with the Community Service Club of Somerville High School, printed up flyers and began circulating the word.
So the Medford-Somerville Football game last Friday became the venue where people could drop off donations and become aware of the group’s efforts to solicit donations.
“It’s a great effort that both cities are coming together to help a community that’s not near us,” said Viele. “Anything would be much appreciated”
In addition to those from the Medford and Somerville athletic community, the endeavor will also be spearheaded by members of the Medford Police and Fire Departments, who will pool the donations made at the game with other donated items and loaded into a tractor trailer which will leave for Hoboken on Friday where the donations will be distributed as needed.
“Right now the focus is getting them what they need,” said Scarpelli, whose Somerville High Soccer team was headed to the finals last Sunday. He will be collecting the game day donations and bringing them to the trailer. Scarpelli was heartened by the response of the local community.
“Its nice to see how the city [responded],” said Scarpelli, “and I’m proud to work here and be around these people.”