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Hampton's Wyland Elementary students make positive impact in community

| Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 9:01 p.m.
Wyland Elementary third graders Joey Pascucci and Seamus McLaughlin help sort hats for Keep Yinz Warm. The boys are part of an after-school club Paws-itive Helping Hands that does a different community outreach project each month.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Wyland Elementary third graders Joey Pascucci and Seamus McLaughlin help sort hats for Keep Yinz Warm. The boys are part of an after-school club Paws-itive Helping Hands that does a different community outreach project each month.
Wyland Elementary third grader Kayleigh Venable helps fold a blanket that was donated for Keep Yinz Warm. Kayleigh is part of an after-school club called Paws-itive Helping Hands that does community outreach projects each month.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Wyland Elementary third grader Kayleigh Venable helps fold a blanket that was donated for Keep Yinz Warm. Kayleigh is part of an after-school club called Paws-itive Helping Hands that does community outreach projects each month.
Group photo of the Paws-itive Helping Hands club at Wyland Elementary School.
Rachel Farkas | Trib Total Media
Group photo of the Paws-itive Helping Hands club at Wyland Elementary School.

Since Hampton's Wyland Elementary after-school service club began a year ago, it has doubled in size and completed nearly a dozen outreach projects in the community.

The club, called Paws-itive Helping Hands, guides third- through fifth-graders in community service projects each month.

The goal is to help local nonprofits and other community social services, said parent and organizer Diana DiMaria.

“They're helping their neighbors so they can relate to the fact that there's need in their community,” DiMaria said.

In October, club members collected warm clothes items for Keep Yinz Warm, a nonprofit based in Mars that gives the items to homeless people in Pittsburgh. The students collected 193 scarves, hats, mittens, blankets and coats and sorted them last week.

DiMaria said the club got its start because Wyland was the only Hampton elementary school that did not have a children's community service club. The club is run by DiMaria, school guidance counselor Amy Kinney and parent Michelle Turvey.

The school's parent-teacher organization started the group last fall, and it's grown to about 40 students this school year. The group continues to grow each month.

The students are responsible for making their own posters and fliers to advertise their monthly service projects and making announcements to the other students, DiMaria said.

Past projects have included making lemon drop and tea kits for cancer patients at UPMC Passavant and making and delivering tie-blankets to Elmcroft Assisted Living Community.

Next month, members will collect canned goods and non-perishables for North Hills Community Outreach. Last year, the group collected hundreds of items for the food pantry.

The students say the club gives them a sense of accomplishment.

“It's just fun to get to help people and spend time with your friends,” said Sophia DiMaria, 7.

“It's something else to do other than watch TV after school,” added Anthony DiMaria, 10, Sophia's brother.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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