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Youngwood businessman grows donations in daffodil campaign

| Thursday, May 9, 2013, 8:30 p.m.
Dawn Keefer
Diane Christofano
Dawn Waugaman

When an American Cancer Society representative approached family friend Ed Christofano about getting involved in Daffodil Days, little did she know she was lining up more than 1,000 donors.

He recruited his employees at the Youngwood Corner Market and Hayden's Pharmacy in the Youngwood and Greensburg locations to sell bright-yellow daffodil cards for a $1 donation apiece to the cancer society.

The campaign ended with a sea of yellow in all three stores and a donation of more than $2,000.

Christofano's grandfather, Nicholas Sirianni, and his uncle, Nicholas Sirianni, both on the side of his mother, Diane Christofano, were directly affected by cancer.

He asked employees to get involved and promised to throw a party for the store that sold the most.

But even Christofano couldn't imagine the result.

Walls, ceilings and doors were covered with the daffodil cards.

“It's very moving. It's a moment when you walk into the store and see the overwhelming response that people do care,” said Christofano, who acquired Hayden's Pharmacy in Youngwood in 2007 and the Greensburg location in 2011. The Youngwood Corner Market opened last year.

“I'm honored to say the employees we have really stepped up in making this program a success,” Christofano said.

They were able to raise more than $1,000 for the American Cancer Society with the cards. On behalf of his family business, Christofano matched every donation.

His mother, affectionately called Mimi by customers, recently presented the check to the cancer society. “When I walked in, I was blown away,” said Dawn Keefer, income development and foundation giving manager for the society division in Greensburg. “Every wall was covered in donation cards.

“It was a sea of yellow. Typically stores sell 100, but they sold between 1,300 to 1,500 and that's just amazing.”

Keefer said this will be the last year for the Daffodil Days fundraiser, as the Westmoreland County campaign was one of only a handful still taking place across the country. It was decided that the society could have a greater impact on those facing cancer by investing in more far-reaching fundraising programs, she said.

Daffodil Days was originally initiated by the Canadian Cancer Society. The unit in Erie County, N.Y., started it with the American Cancer Society in 1970.

Keefer said several million daffodils were sold annually and transported 3,000 miles from daffodil fields in the state of Washington.

“The flower was selected for this program because it represents hope,” Keefer said.

Dawn Waugaman, manager and head cashier at The Corner Market, found the program inspiring and wanted to help in any way she could.

“I really took it to heart and sold to customers; sometimes I even asked people twice,” said Waugaman, whose grandparents died of cancer. “We have really great customers here who were happy to help. Since there's cancer in my family, this touched me a lot.”

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.