Community Support Continues With Halos For Angels
By Anastasia Marchese
A few years ago, Karen Casolaro was diagnosed with breast cancer that resulted in her having a double mastectomy.
“I had a large support group, but it affected everyone in the family,” she recalls. There were many nights when her five children would be waiting by the front window, looking out to see what a family member or friend was bringing for supper. “It was something to look forward to. It took their mind off of what was going on.”
The kindness of the many people who brought meals, who helped and supported their family through Casolaro’s fight with cancer, inspired her to give back. She wanted to help others who were suffering the devastating effects of a sudden tragedy. Halos for Angels purpose is to serve as an early response team, to provide immediate assistance before even insurance kicks in.
The beautiful thing about Halos is that the trend of giving continues, with nine out of 10 people that are recipients then turning around and volunteering themselves.
Last month the organization held a special meeting to honor their “littlest angel with the big heart,” Gina Lagravenis. Gina is just eight years old. When “Halos” was just starting, Gina’s mom organized the first Halos for Angels fundraiser at her hair salon, Cathy D’s in Florham Park. “She opened up the shop all day on a Sunday and charged $20 for a haircut,” said Casolaro. All the proceeds and tips were donated to Halos for Angels, and a great tradition of business sponsorship began.
When Gina heard about Halos most recent recipient, Kristin Curcio, she wanted to do something to help. Curcio is in her 30’s and is the mother of two young children. Recently she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. Brian Johnson, Curcio’s husband, is vice president of S. Johnson Landscape Management in Chatham. The Johnson family had recently been on the volunteering side of Halos for Angels, not suspecting that they would soon benefit from the organization’s charity. Johnson’s business had sponsored the pumpkin patch and mum sale at the autumn fundraiser last October.
In order to help, Gina decided to have a lemonade stand to raise money for the Johnson family. All the money raised went to Halos for Angels, which in turn passed it on to the Johnson family. Curcio and Johnson were deeply touched by Gina’s efforts and were so pleased to meet her when she was honored at the July meeting.
“It is a miracle in the making and it’s blooming,” said Casolaro, who commented that the need for their services is growing. “Everybody has a gift and a specialty to give someone else. People come up to me and say, ‘I have this to give, how do I do it?”
One thing Casolaro cannot stress enough is the impact that local businesses and corporate sponsorship have in helping Halos meet the needs of those experiencing a sudden tragedy. There is a list of business sponsors found on their website and Casolaro receives frequent calls from businesses looking to see how they can take part.
Halos for Angels is also always looking for new ways to raise funds to help those in need. The group is currently participating in Macy’s “Shop for a Cause.” People can buy a $5 pass from “Halos” which entitles you to get 30 percent off all purchases at Macy’s on Aug 29. The cost of the pass goes directly to support Halos for Angels.
As the need grows, Halos needs to grow as well. It is currently looking for a location to move its office, but also have room to store medical equipment.
“People call me and want to donate medical equipment, but we don’t have storage for that now,” said Casolaro.
A lot of medical equipment may not be covered by insurance, like hospital beds or shower chairs, and it would be great to be able to store donated equipment to redistribute when a recipient has the need. Halos for Angels recently had a shower chair donated which was stored in its office. Shortly thereafter, it was contacted by a recipient who was in need of one and were able to pass it on. Casolaro would like to be able to expand Halos in this direction.
To get involved as a volunteer or to find out more about upcoming fundraisers and the Macy’s Shop for a Cause campaign, check out www.halosforangelsinc.com.