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BOCES Instructors Give Back to March of Dimes

VALHALLA, N.Y. – Christine Ireland, applied art instructor at Southern Westchester BOCES, wants to help the March of Dimes , headquartered in White Plains. She said her charity is in appreciation of the help they gave her.

“My son was born nine weeks premature,” said Ireland inside the Southern Westchester BOCES campus in Valhalla where she teaches students how to create using digital software tools. “He was 3.5 pounds at birth and went into an incubator for about a month.”

Though her son, Damon, stayed under the hospital's care for only a short period of time, many premature babies remain under supervision and in the incubators for months. Ireland said Damon is rounding 18-months-old and it seems he will beat the chances of most complications.

Prior to the birth of her son, Ireland said she wasn't aware of all the work the March of Dimes does to fund research and help families care for premature babies. While Damon was in the hospital, the organization gave her literature and information that helped her through the ordeal.

November is Prematurity Awareness Month and as a thank you, Ireland partnered with Cory Magarelli, horticulture and floral instructor at Southern Westchester BOCES horticulture, to conduct a fundraiser for the March of Dimes. On Thursday, Prematurity Awareness Day, Ireland and Magarelli's students will sell bouquets for $10 and balloons with cards for $1. The profits will go to the March of Dimes.

Magarelli's life was also touched by a premature birth with her youngest grandson, who is now age 6 and doing well. The horticulture teacher said she feels fundraising projects offer students more than just a chance to give back.

“It's important for the students to take responsibility and learn to support a cause,” Magarelli said. “If it piques even one student's interest and makes her feel good about helping her community, we've accomplished something.”

Ireland and Magarelli said they may extend the sale through to Thanksgiving if there is enough interest.

Anyone interested in purchasing a bouquet or balloon or wishes to make a donation can contact her with an order at or call her at 914-761-2400 ext. 348.

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