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Putnam Valley Wins Grand Prize In Charity Champions Program

Putnam Valley High School Is the 2016 Westchester/Hudson Valley grand-prize winner in Optimum Community's Charity Champions program.
Putnam Valley High School Is the 2016 Westchester/Hudson Valley grand-prize winner in Optimum Community's Charity Champions program. Photo Credit: Submitted

PUTNAM VALLEY, N.Y. -- Putnam Valley High School’s Make a Difference Club was recognized by Town Supervisor Sam Oliverio Jr. on Wednesday after winning the grand prize in this year’s Charity Champions program, according to school officials.

This year, the program – an initiative by Optimum Community that promotes volunteerism and encourages area high schools to raise funds for a charity of their choice – awarded Putnam Valley a $5,000 check to be donated to Drug Crisis in Our Backyard.

Speakers during the awards ceremony included Oliverio; Linda Cefaloni, Make a Difference Club co-advisor; Steven and Susan Salamone, founders of Drug Crisis in Our Backyard; and Optimum Community Moderator Kerry Donovan.

After Donovan discussed the program and congratulated the winners, Oliverio thanked them for their commitment to others. According to the high school, the Salamones were then presented with the $5,000 check on behalf of the students.

Each year, the Charity Champions program offers select student groups $500 in seed money to help kick-off their fundraising efforts and a $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice. The students then continue to raise money throughout the school year, competing against each other. A grand-prize winner is named in each of the tri-state areas Optimum serves.

Putnam Valley’s Make a Difference group engaged in several fundraisers during the past year, including a “Discover Me: Making the Change” event that consisted of rotating workshops on numerous health and wellness issues with speakers from local and government agencies and businesses, according to the school.

The students also engaged in a “Stay-Awake-A-Thon,” a 12-hour, overnight event to engage the students in a variety of positive, constructive and fun activities; and a “Change the World” media contest that was open to all elementary, middle school and high school students and focused on raising awareness about the dangers of drugs.

“Congratulations to each of the students involved in raising funds for such a deserving charity,” Oliverio said. “Through your efforts, young people are now even more aware of the dangers of drugs and the power that lies within each individual to make good choices.”

Jennifer Ostrager, Cablevision Vice President of Public Affairs, praised the students’ hard work and motivation.

“For the seventh year,” she said, “we are pleased to bring this program that offers young people an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in other people’s lives to the schools in the areas we serve.”

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