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Tot's memory spurs merry Christmas

Linda Harkcom | For The Independent-Observer
Several members of the Ramsay Elementary School Student Council present Madisyn’s Angels founder Gwen Klepsky and volunteer Dori Martin, both of Scottdale, with toys the students collected for the local non-profit group. At the same time, Klepsky and Martin, give the school more than 600 toys and other gifts for children in need in the Mt. Pleasant Area School District. From left are, front row, third-grade student council representatives Isaiah Porter, 8, Brianna Grieff, 9, Ryan Borkowski, 9, Logan Rega, 9, and second-grade student council representatives, Emma Fisher, 8, Rylee Ingelido, 7, and Morgan Baughman, 8. Back row, Kelpsky, and Martin.

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Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

Dec. 16 marked the four-year anniversary of the day Madisyn Grace Klepsky left this earth and became an angel.

While the toddler is gone she is far from forgotten, and many local children had a merry Christmas thanks to Madisyn's Angels, an organization started in her memory.

For the past three years Gwen Klepsky, the girl's great-grandmother and her father, Justin Klepsky, both of Scottdale, have been collecting toys to give to those in need at Christmas time.

“The first year I just hit up friends and relatives for toys and gave them to the Salvation Army. But I wanted the toys to stay here and benefit local children so we started Madisyn's Angels,” Gwen Klepsky said.

Since then the program has grown immensely. Madisyn's Angels is officially a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing Christmas gifts to children in need who live in the Southmoreland and Mt. Pleasant school districts. This year alone the group collected, bought and distributed more than 1,000 toys to 350 to 400 children from needy families. There were enough toys collected that each child received multiple gifts.

“It makes me feel glad in one way and sad in another. No matter what, we can't bring Madisyn back. We would if we could. At least we were able to take her death and make something positive out of it,” Klepsky said.

Making sure that children have gifts for the holiday is not enough for Klepsky. She makes sure a “wish list” is filled out for each child including clothing sizes, the child's gender and a list of things they are hoping Santa will bring them.

“It's just a good feeling knowing that Christmas morning children will have something under the tree that they wanted,” she said.

In the Mt. Pleasant Area School District alone, Madisyn's Angels distributed more than 600 toys, which helped around 100 families.

“The parents are all really thankful it is here. For many of them, they were not expecting any help at all, so they were very grateful because they didn't know what kind of Christmas their children were going to have,” said Ramsay Elementary School guidance counselor Frank Farrell.

Each year, the number of families in need of help has grown. Klepsky credits her volunteers and members of the community who have donated to the program with being able to keep up with the need.

“I am just so grateful for all the help we have received from all of the businesses and organizations, some we didn't even know about,” she said.

While some Ramsay Elementary School students had gifts under their trees courtesy of the program, others contributed to it. The school's student council conducted a toy drive and collected more than 50 items for the organization. Ramsay Student Council adviser Mary Ann Bauer said each year student council members choose which organization to help.

“When they heard the story about Madisyn's Angels they were touched by it plus it was a local organization,” Bauer said.

Klepsky said that Madisyn's Angels is not only headquartered locally in Scottdale, but all of the items and money donated stay in the area to benefit the children in and around the Mt. Pleasant and Scottdale areas.

The group accepts donations year round. To make a contribution to the organization, make checks payable to Madisyn's Angels and send to 406 Eleanor Ave., Scottdale, PA 15683.

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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