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Ti Teen raising money for Yes!Solutions

TICONDEROGA What started as a friendly wager between sisters has become a charity event. Joelle Stonitsch, 18, will ride her bicycle from Ticonderoga to Watervliet Sept. 13, covering 100 miles as she raises money for YES!Solutions, a grass-roots neighbor-to-neighbor service organization based in New York City. Family members call it the Tour de Joelle. This is its second year. She was complaining that she missed me, so I told her to get on her bike and cmon down, said Jessica Dillon, Joelles sister who lives in the Albany area. Ill bet you $100 and the Worlds Best Aunt title that you know is really mine, Dillon taunted Stonitsch, playing off their 3-year old nephew Owens rollicking attachment to the two sisters. She and Jessica are seeking sponsors for the 100-mile ride and will donate the proceeds to YES!Solutions. At 10-20-30 cents per mile, Tour de Joelle sponsors will help pay for back-to-school shoes and sneakers, socks, back packs, books, notebooks, binders, pens and pencils for 100 children in YES!-sponsored programs. People can send checks payable to Yes!Solutions to Stonitsch at 16 Baldwin Road, Ticonderoga 12883. The children in the YES! Family are pre-teen and early teen boys and girls who have aptitudes that are thwarted by the circumstances in which they have been living, said Mary Lanning, president of YES!Solutions. Most of these kids are the first in their families to break the cycle of poverty and stagnation. Most come from gang-influenced public schools and neighborhoods. Most live with a single parent or grandparent who might be seriously ill, addicted or dying. Many live in abusive homes. All of the hardworking students in one After School Program are children of incarcerated parents, she added. Typical grade averages of our children before intervention are in the 48-to-60 percent range. Last marking period, our children in the care of Boys Hope Girls Hope of New York, as an example, brought home a shining across-the-board grade average of 3.1 Last year the Tour de Joelle raised more than $1,200. In conjunction with bike ride, the Stonitsch family is collecting school supplies for local students. On the local end MorningStar Family Ministry/Yada Ladies Group is collecting school supplies and backpacks for ages 5-18 youth from Essex County, said Tricia Stonitsch. We are also collecting $20 Wal-Mart gift cards to assist families with school shoes or outfits for the children. Last year we helped with 46 backpacks and they were stuffed full with supplies, she added. We also gave over 400 pairs of new socks and underwear to those in need through Essex County DSS. Its a match made in heaven so to speak. Anyone can help us, she concluded. I have a list of supplies needed and they can be dropped off at my house. I have a dream that one day we will have cars lined up in a row with school supplies filling their trunks. Kids will come and choose a backpack and go from car to car getting what they need for school and also a certificate for shoe, socks, and underwear. The deadline for dropping off school supplies is Aug. 24. The Tour de Joelle is just the latest service project for the Stonitsch family. Family members have volunteered their efforts in Haiti, Mississippi, New York City and closer to home where Joelle is a member of the Ticonderoga Fire Department.

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