Boy, 9, Honored for Helping Victims of Sandy

Instead of birthday gifts, Giovanni Rivera wanted donations for storm victims

Nine-year-old Giovanni Rivera is a “very special boy.” 

Giovanni, a student at Thomas Jefferson School, was honored at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting for his generosity in helping victims of superstorm Sandy.

Giovanni decided that he did not want any gifts for his 9th birthday. Instead, he asked for donations of school supplies to help the students at Hugh J. Boyd Junior Elementary School in Seaside Heights.

It was the second year that Giovanni had decided that instead of birthday gifts, he wanted donations for a worthy cause. Last year he asked for gifts to help the ill child of his martial arts coach.

In January, Giovanni and more than two dozen of his friends celebrated his birthday at AMA Karate in Whippany by sorting and packing the donations for the children. Those supplies are coming just in time.

In a letter to Morristown Patch, Berit Ollestad and Nick Prizzi, the co-coordinators of the town’s efforts to help residents of Seaside Heights affected by the storm, said many of the items that were collected in lieu of gifts —  juice boxes, graham crackers, coloring books, matchbox cars — “would almost be considered a luxury to many of these students” because of what they lost in the storm.

“He’s a very special boy,” Mayor Tim Dougherty said, in giving Giovanni a plaque of recognition. "it's pretty cool I get to do this." 


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