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Spreading hope, by the bag

Locals donate comfort, caring to Booth House

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Tedesco, right, places a Bag of Hope into the BAGOH donation receptacle in Common Grounds as Diane Tedesco, project organizer, and volunteer Anthony Brandino look on, Aug. 17. By the end of September, Diane hopes to procure 180 bags for homeless children staying at the Booth House in Syracuse.

Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Tedesco, right, places a Bag of Hope into the BAGOH donation receptacle in Common Grounds as Diane Tedesco, project organizer, and volunteer Anthony Brandino look on, Aug. 17. By the end of September, Diane hopes to procure 180 bags for homeless children staying at the Booth House in Syracuse. Photo by Pierce Smith.

— Diane Tedesco was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in April of 2010. Although the illness forced her to resign from her position at the Madison County Health Department, she has been keeping busy.

Tedesco is the lead organizer behind “Be A Giver Of Hope,” a project that aims to provide simple comforts to runaways and homeless teenagers staying at the Booth House in Syracuse.

“It’s a big thing for the kids to feel that there is someone thinking of them, that someone cares,” Tedesco said. “The success I’ve experienced already, just through thank-you notes the kids have written and verbal response, has been amazing. The community has been so generous in donating; it’s really a heartwarming thing.”

Through BAGOH, Tedesco donates “Bags of Hope” to less-fortunate children. Each bag contains a stuffed animal and blanket, as well as an inspirational book or bible and a notebook for journaling, an activity Tedesco said has helped her through her own difficult times. The bags are given to kids ages 12 to 17, as there are no social services available to them.

“The bag itself represents ownership and security. The stuffed animal and blanket is included for comfort. A journal is included because writing has really helped me, and I think it’s advantageous for the kids,” Tedesco said. “The inspirational book is meant to uplift the children and give them strength and hope if they’re ever feeling down. We just want the kids at the Booth House to know that they’re not forgotten.”

Formed this past January, BAGOH is comprised of a handful of Tedesco’s friends and family members. Her husband Thomas, and children Anthony, Nicholas and Danielle have all taken a hand in collecting items. Drives at Burton Street Elementary and monetary donations have helped Tedesco donate about 40 bags of hope to the Booth House. She hopes to secure about 140 more bags for the teens by the end of September, when she will undergo a bone marrow transplant.

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