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Syracuse kids get 11,000 donated hats and gloves

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Six-year-old Harlon Adamy shows off his new hat and gloves.

Kids in Syracuse city schools received 11,000 donated hats and gloves for the winter. It is an ongoing need, with some kids walking up to a mile and a half to school every day in freezing temperatures.

At Webster Elementary, first-grader Harlon Adamy showed off his new gear. 

"So my gloves are little bit like black and blue," Adamy said. "And then my hat is a little like silver and grey color. I’m very happy and thankful."

The donation effort was first started by the late George Wladis in 1997. Syracuse schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea was a principal at Seymour Elementary at the time, when he said Wladis came to them asking what they needed.

“I said, we have a lot of kids that they have needs for hats and gloves," Alicea said. "He came back a few days later with boxes of hats and gloves for all the kids at Seymour school. After that, the tradition has expanded to all the elementary schools in the district.”

Mark Wladis, the son of George Wladis, remembers his father’s impression of the kids.

“He saw the kids get off the bus, and it was snowing outside and they didn’t have hats and gloves, some kids didn’t have coats, some kids were in flip-flops," Wladis said. "That’s the hardest thing because you think how lucky you are, the way you grew up, and the way your parents raised you, and you never had to worry about it.”

Wladis said the items are a way to help kids be prepared for school.

"You see these kids coming to school, and you want them to be able to learn when they hit the ground running," Wladis said. "If they don't have hats and gloves, they're not warm. Teachers always say it takes awhile for them to get to that point, and they lose part of their day."

The Wladis Hat and Glove Giveaway is also made possible by more than 60 businesses, unions and individual contributions.