“Helping Kinaffe” –
Cohasset 7th Grade Girls Lacrosse Raise Hope & Funds for Ukrainian Refugees
COHASSET — Town Manager Christopher Senior and seventh grade girls lacrosse Coach Henry Kucinski would like to recognize members of the Cohasset community, especially the seventh grade girls lacrosse team, who rallied together in support of Ukrainian child refugees in County Mayo, Ireland.
Approximately 2,845 miles away from Cohasset in Swinford, Co. Mayo, Ireland, 13 Ukrainian child refugees are attending the Kinaffe National School after they fled with their families from their homes in Ukraine due to the ongoing war. The Kinaffe National School was on the brink of closing due to rural depopulation over the last few decades, however, the arrival of 300+ Ukrainian refugees at a nearby hotel had more than tripled its student body allowing it to remain open as there was a new increased need for the school.
At the Kinaffe National School, Principal Margaret Reilly and her staff have been working with these children and their families to help them adjust to living in Ireland. While continuing the children’s education, the Kinaffe staff is also helping to feed them, take care of their basic needs and help them process the trauma they’ve experienced.
Back in Cohasset, members of the community were taking part in donation and service efforts in support of Ukraine, including the Appel family who volunteered at a food packing event at the End Hunger New England chapter in Pembroke. After Lindsay and Parker Appel’s daughter, Liv, missed lacrosse practice for the event, the team’s parents and Coach Kucinski discussed ways in which they could get involved in a cause and give back to others. This desire to help others resulted in the team of 24 partnering with End Hunger to package approximately 13,000 meals to be donated to Ukraine.
Following the food packaging event, the girls and their families wanted to do more to further assist the Ukrainian people. With the assistance of Cohasset Veterans Service Officer Phil Mahoney, the team was connected with the Durkin family in Cohasset. The Durkin family has a cousin in County Mayo who is the principal of a school that had taken in Ukrainian child refugees — Margaret Reilly.
Once the connection was made, the team and their families got to work setting up sub-committees and organizing numerous relief efforts including, but not limited to:
- Creating a site to track the team’s ongoing initiatives and donations
- Creating a GoFundMe to raise money for the school and children it took in
- Conducting community outreach to increase donations
- Contacting local businesses for support
- Establishing an Amazon WishList that would donate items directly to the school
- Running lemonade stands to raise funds to benefit the school and children
- Reaching out to students from Cohasset, Hingham, Brockton and Milton schools for them to write letters to the Ukrainian children
In addition to the girl’s efforts, numerous community members also joined in to assist. John Durkin and his family from Cohasset all the way to Chicago raised a large sum of money to donate. Officer Mahoney conducted outreach amongst local veterans to raise money. Megan and Jay Whoriskey hosted barbecues for the team where they wrote hundreds of letters and packaged clothing, sports equipment, school materials and more. Kate Struzziero oversaw the letter-writing effort in which students wrote approximately 500 letters to the refugees letting them know they were loved and supported. Austine Lyne of GoodSport, a local sporting goods store, donated soccer balls. Tom Norton and Kristin Walker of Coastal Car dealership pledged to support the refugee students with a very generous donation that would be dispersed over a five-month period. Coastal Car is also utilizing its partnerships with other businesses and clients to garner more donations in addition to its pledge. Moira Donohue, who was raised in Cohasset and is currently a teacher at the Grover School in Milton, got the Grover School involved and facilitated donations that included money and sports gear from students, staff and teachers.
Parents in Cohasset have also set up numerous donation boxes around town and within the Cohasset Public Schools to collect new clothing and merchandise to donate.
To date, the girls lacrosse team and community members have donated at least $3,000 worth of clothing, sports gear and basic supplies and raised $23,000 in funds and pledges.
“This is truly a community-wide effort that just continued to blossom as everyone got more involved in assisting our girls in their donation efforts,” Coach Kucinski said. “This donation effort has been an amazing experience for our team members as it has taught them important life lessons of service and what it means to help others. I’m extremely proud of what our girls and the community have accomplished so far, and I look forward to seeing what else we can do to continue our support of the Kinaffe National School and its students.”
“Once we learned of our community members’ initiative to collect monetary and material donations, we wanted to ensure that word got out about their extremely generous and thoughtful work in support of these Ukrainian children who have been first-hand witnesses to the devastating impacts of war, which have completely changed their lives forever,” Town Manager Senior said. “Even from thousands of miles away, these children are receiving support from their peers which is truly something our town should be proud of. We encourage anyone who can do so to support this ongoing relief effort.”
All monetary funds and items collected will be donated directly to Principal Reilly and the Kinaffe National School. From there, the items will be distributed to the children and their families who are living in hotel suites in the county with few belongings after fleeing their homes in Ukraine.
“You are all wonderful and deserve to be celebrated,” said Principal Reilly. “For the American children and teenagers involved, they are part of living history in an awfully sad situation on the continent of Europe. They will never forget their efforts and how they helped from thousands of miles away.”
The students are expected to remain at the Kinaffe National School throughout the next school year, at least. The school, which Reilly has said is now “part of living history” thanks to these students’ arrival, has since hired additional teachers to educate the local children and Ukrainian children within the school’s three classrooms.
On behalf of the Town of Cohasset, Town Manager Senior would like to thank the following members of the girls lacrosse team for their generosity and kindness in spearheading this effort: Liv Appel, Hadley Berns, Maddie Campbell, Molly Campbell, Scarlett Crews, Charlette Gallagher, Eva Harries, Grace Kierman, Sienna Marshak, Janet O’Carroll, Saoirse O’Duggan, Grace Raczkowski, Georgia Royston, Libby Stuzziero, Rose White, Emma Whoriskey, Summer McDonough, Mia McNally, Ashley Henle and Regan Carroll, and coaches Henry Kucinski, Jay Whoriskey, Jeff Campbell and Mike White.
Town Manager Senior and Coach Kucinski would also like to thank the following parents who served on subcommittees for the group: Lindsay and Parker Appel (clothing collection and Amazon site), Kate Struzziero (letters), Megan Kiernan (communications to schools), Courtney Durkin (Durkin family representative and coordinator), Erin O’Duggan (clothing coordinator), Gina Swanburg (GoFundMe communications), Cristy Campbell (sporting equipment coordinator), Cecilia Harries (clothing collection), John Donohue (financial oversight), Susan Donohue (clothing collection), Moira Donahue (Grover School donations leader), and a special thanks to Megan Whoriskey for all of her extra efforts (site developer, coordinator for clothes, sports gear collections, etc.).
The Town also wishes to thank everyone who has donated and contributed to this effort.