MacAfee Road School Staff, Students, Raise Money For Autism Awareness

Marie Ferrizzi, left, and Corinne Yorlano, second from right, present ceremonial check to Family Resource Network’s Jennifer Gleason, center, while MacAfee Road School principal Bill Grippo looks on.

April is Autism Awareness Month, which means the MacAfee Road School Autism Awareness Committee has been busy.

The first week of the month hadn’t even ended yet, and the committee had already raised $750 for the Family Resource Network’s Autism Family Services program.

That was accomplished by a Pajamas Day, where students could pay at least $1 to be able to wear their pajamas to school on March 31, and a special chocolate sale featuring specially made candies created by a MacAfee staff member.

The committee’s co-chairs, MacAfee special education teachers Corinne Yorlano and Marie Ferrizzi, chose yet another fundraiser, an April 6 dine-and-donate event at Moe’s Southwest Grill on Cedar Grove Lane, to present what they had raised so far to the Family Resource Center. Another dine-and-donate event is scheduled later in the month for the Rainforest Cafe in Edison.

“It’s our passion,” Yorlano said of the cause.

“We have such a passion for autism awareness, and we’re really big advocates for it, that we wanted to do something special for this month,” Ferrizzi said.

This is the third year the two teachers have paired up to raise money for autism awareness. They said they wanted to do something other than t-shirt sales, as they did in past years.

“We did more accessible things like pajama day and the Moe’s night and the Rainforest Cafe night, because we had such great connections with the community and the outpouring of support and donations has been incredible,” Yorlano said. “We’ve just been overwhelmed with the flooding of love and support and donations for our cause.”

“It’s what we’re trying to do to give back to the students who have these disabilities,” Ferrizzi said.

School principal Bill Grippo praised the teachers’ efforts.

“MacAfee is a special place and every teacher contributes something different,” he said. “Maria and Corinne have a dedication to autism and autistic children … this year I encouraged them to make it a little bigger by doing some more fundraising with the kids and they did that. And then we hooked up with Moe’s to add to it.”

Yorlano and Ferrizzi presented a ceremonial check for $750 to Jennifer Gleason of the resource network.

The money “means that we will be able to serve the autism families better with after-school programs, better enrichment for their lives, and training,” Gleason said. The school committee has “raised close to $2,000 since they started in 2015, so that’s awesome.”


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