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Target takes aim at tornado-damaged schools

Date: 10/11/2011

Oct. 10, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

SPRINGFIELD — When Cheryl Stanco of Wilbraham heard the story of how Gail Price, director of Square One’s Main Street Children’s Center, safely guided 30 preschoolers into the facility’s cellar as the June 1 tornado bore down on the building, then got them out of the destruction and, by the end of the night, safely reunited with their parents, she was amazed.

“I have trouble getting my two young ones to walk down the stairs together,” she told Reminder Publications.

The thought that these little children had not only lived through a terrifying storm, but as its result, had also lost the place they “depend on every single day” moved her to want to help Square One rebuild.

Her work as the executive team leader for human resources for the Target store in Windsor, Conn., gave her the perfect venue to rally corporate aid for the school.

“At Target, we’re really involved with the community and taking care of education and giving back,” Stanco said. “I was very concerned with the kids in the community not being able to go back to school and I wanted to be able to give back to those children.”

She met with Price and Square One administration about how Target could help. Soon, her plan included the nearby Elias Brookings Museum School and Cathedral High School, also severely damaged on June 1.

“I just wanted to give something back to the older kids [too], not to forget them,” Stanco said of her decision to include the Catholic high school in Target’s rebuilding efforts.

On Oct. 7, she and representatives from the Target stores in Holyoke, Enfield, Conn., and South Windsor, Conn., presented donations of $2,500 in Target gift cards to each of the three schools.

“They can use it for whatever they want,” Stanco said. “We just want to make sure the kids get everything they need.”

Stanco praised the work of Michael Cowell-LaFleur store team leader of the Target in Enfield, Conn., who “coordinated everything.” Tyron Harris, executive team leader, human resources for the Target in South Windsor, Conn., and Cristina Alves, executive team leader, human resources for the Target in Holyoke assisted in the corporate fund-raising for this project.

“Target’s contribution to support the critical need to replace so many lost supplies for our early education and care classrooms is vitally important and we so very much appreciate their willingness to help,” Joan Kagan, president and CEO of Square One, said.

Kim Lee, Square One vice president for advancement said the gift cards would allow the non-profit organization to “pick items directly off our tornado wish list.”

Dr. Ann Southworth, president of Cathedral High School, said she was surprised by Target’s generosity to her school, which is facing a long, expensive rebuild.

“It was so unexpected,” Southworth said. “We are just so grateful to Target for remembering Cathedral. How heartwarming it is to see such a large corporation reach out to us, and support the community, in such an issue.”

Mayor Domenic Sarno said he was grateful for Target’s support of the damaged schools, and for its willingness to get involved with rebuilding Springfield.

“It’s very heartwarming that we continue to get this outreach of corporations and citizens that continue to think of helping these well-respected institutions of Square One, Elias Brookings and Cathedral High School, which we are working very closely with, to help them rebuild bigger, better and stronger,” Sarno said.

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