Dec 16, 2013
Annual Coat Drive Fills Growing Need in Worcester County.
BY CHELSEA DAVIS
NEWS STAFF WRITER
SOUTHBRIDGE — Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis brought a little warmth to town last week, as he stopped at three locations in Southbridge for the 2013 Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat Drive on Thursday, Dec. 5.
“There’s much need for the coats in this area,” Evangelidis said.
Evangelidis distributed roughly 480 coats to the three locations in Southbridge, giving each place about 15 bags filled with 10 to 15 coats each.
The sheriff first stopped at the Tradewinds Clubhouse at 309 Main St.
“You guys make us proud,” Evangelidis said of Tradewinds Clubhouse.
The employees and members of Tradewinds Clubhouse offered a thank you card to Evangelidis for the donation.
Evangelidis then moved to Catholic Charities, at 79 Elm St., to give more coats.
“We’re extremely grateful,” said Area Administrator for Catholic Charities of Worcester County Lisa Genest.
Catholic Charities has been offering coats for no charge during the season for nine years, Genest said.
“I can’t imagine how a parent feels when they can’t provide a coat for their child,” Genest said.
The coats were available from Catholic Charities starting Friday, Dec. 6. Finally, Evangelidis stopped at the Center of Hope at 100 Foster St.
“This will be so great,” said Public Relations and Administration of the Center of Hope Cindy Howard, “This will fill a void of need here.”
Howard told Evangelidis of the many services and events they offer to the town.
As he said at the other locations, Evangelidis said the Center of Hope was “very inspiring.”
Evangelidis became Worcester County sheriff in January 2011 and inherited the Annual Winter Coat Drive.
“This is his third year doing it,” said Office of the Worcester County Sheriff Director of External Affairs Kim Roy, “and he’s expanded it so much.”
“We went from donating hundreds of coats each year to donating thousands,” Evangelidis said.
Evangelidis was not alone in his donations to Southbridge.
“We could not be here without Spiro,” Evangelidis said, referring to Southbridge Middle High School history teacher Spiro Thomo. “The school really stepped up for the cause.”
Thomo and fellow teacher Rick Carraro helped to receive coats along with the Southbridge Student Council.
“The students on the Student Council thought it would be a great idea,” Thomo said.
Beginning at the end of October through the last week of November, students, teachers and faculty members donated coats to the cause of the Sheriff’s Annual Winter Coat drive.
“We collected about 482 coats,” Thomo said.
Twin City Cleaners of Dudley then washed all the coats before putting them in bags to be distributed.
“We’re so proud of all the people at Southbridge Middle High School,” Evangelidis said.
Prior to visiting Southbridge, Evangelidis began the day at 9:30 a.m. by giving away coats in Northern Worcester County as well, totaling more than 2,000 coats given by the last stop at 3 p.m. on Thursday.
There were many happy and grateful faces seen where the sheriff traveled that day.
“It’s amazing to me that there’s so much need everywhere,” Evangelidis said.
Dec 10, 2013
By Jack Minch, Sentinel & Enterprise
LEOMINSTER — Sheriff Lew Evangelidis got an assist from New England Revolution soccer star Diego Fagundez delivering over 1,000 coats to the Spanish American Center Thursday.
“It’s an honor to do this,” Evangelidis said. “It’s a wonderful time for all of us to give back a little bit.”
Evangelidis made eight stops throughout Worcester County delivering coats.
He started in Gardner then made stops at the Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg before arriving in Leominster.
Evangelidis is scheduled to continue his deliveries in Worcester and Southbridge today.
Fagundez made a special trip to help deliver the coats to Leominster.
A black van pulled up to the center and Fagundez joined a line of volunteers hauling large black plastic bags filled with coats inside.
The Reserve Deputy Sheriff’s Association coordinates collection of the coats for the disadvantaged. The coats are new and gently used.
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area jump-started this year’s collection by donating 1,000, said Kimberly Roy, external-affairs director for Evangelidis’ office.
Fagundez who traveled with his father to Washington, wore a Leominster soccer hoodie. He recently completed his high-school coursework and will graduate with his Leominster High School classmates in the spring, and jumped at the opportunity to help deliver the coats.
“I said of course, it’s a good cause,” he said. “It’s a nice thing to do and since it’s my hometown I wanted to do it.”
The center’s executive director, Neddy Latimer, and advocate Nicolas Formaggia said there is a strong need for the coats.
“You’d be surprised there are so many people who don’t have what they need,” Latimer said.
In years past, people who needed the coats were invited to the delivery party but it created chaos so this year the center is collecting requests and sorting the coats before handing them out.
“We can make a more fair distribution,” Formaggia said.
Evangelidis started by delivering 300 coats in Gardner then 300 at each at Cleghorn Neighborhood Center and Hope Center in Fitchburg.
“I hope people know these are nice, clean coats, they aren’t just in a bag,” Evangelidis said.
Wachusett Mountain, Dr. D’Ambrosio Eye Care, the New England Revolution and Gardner Museum collected coats and jackets for the program, as well as individual donors.
“I wanted to say thank you from us,” Latimer.
Dec 10, 2013
By: Matt Tota/ Daily News Staff
Milford Daily News
Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis, center, looks on as a child gets his eyes scanned as part of the new Child Project now offered by the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.
The Worcester County Sheriff’s Department is now using iris scanning technology in conjunction with a national database that law enforcement officials use to quickly locate and identify lost or missing children.
Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis this weekend announced that his office has brought the Children’s Identification and Location Database (CHILD) Project to Worcester County.
The CHILD Project, created by both the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and National Center for Missing Adults, allows law enforcement officials throughout the country to locate and identify children using a biometric recognition system.
Iris scanning captures and digitally encodes an image of an iris, located in the eye. According to Evangelidis, the iris is 10 times more identifiable than a fingerprint. And though a person’s appearance will change with age, he said, the iris remains the same.
“Fingerprinting was a great system for many, many years,” Evangelidis said. “But now we have the next generation of technology in biometrics.”
Enrollment is now available through the Worcester County Sheriff’s office. Evangelidis plans to bring his iris scan program to schools, public events, law enforcement events and community centers. Parent consent is required. And the department’s community outreach officials conduct the scanning.
The iris scanner takes a simple digital photograph of a child’s irises. That image is then analyzed; and code is created and compared to others in the database. If a match isn’t found, the iris data is linked with the demographic information and stored at the national registry until the child turns 18.
More than 1,300 sheriff offices nationwide participate in the CHILD Project, Evangelidis said. Every day in the United States, he said, more than 2,000 children are reported missing, while a child is reported as abducted every 40 seconds.
“As sheriff,” he said, “I want to make this technology available to the families of Worcester County. I can not think of anything more important than protecting and keeping our children safe.”
The department purchased an iris scanner after Evangelidis took office in January 2011 and has offered the technology for seniors, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia who may wander off, through its Triad Program.
Dec 9, 2013
By: Sandy Meindersma CORRESPONDENT
HOLDEN — As part of the first Holden Winter Festival Saturday, Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis rolled out The Child Project to Worcester County.
Operated by the Nation’s Missing Children Organization and Center for Missing Adults in Phoenix, The Child Project uses digital photography to scan a child’s iris, compares it to the data already stored in a national database and then stores it in the database with the child’s information.
There are more than 1,300 sheriff’s offices who are using The Child Project, which Sheriff Evangelidis likened to child fingerprinting programs that became popular in the area after Molly Bish disappeared from Comins Pond in Warren.
“It’s 10 times more accurate than a fingerprint,” Sheriff Evangelidis said. “And unlike fingerprints, the iris doesn’t change over time.”
While fingerprinting requires some effort to get an accurate print, the iris scan is done in a few seconds without the mess.
Sheriff Evangelidis said he purchased the iris scanner soon after his election as sheriff in 2010. He initially used the iris scanner with the elderly, in order to protect those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who may wander off.
Sheriff Evangelidis said that he chose the Holden Winter Festival to launch The Child Project because he wanted to be sure that he selected a place where parents could give their consent to the scan.
“As a father of two children, I will always remember registering my children with fingerprint identification kits,” he said. Today, with new advances in technology, there is now a more accurate way to identify a child. With iris scan technology we now have positive identification in the blink of an eye that is ten times more identifiable than a fingerprint.”
Approximately 120 children had their irises scanned at the Winter Festival.
Sheriff Evangelidis said that he plans to make the iris scanner available at public and special events, as well as through social service agencies and community centers.
“I cannot think of anything more important than protecting and keeping our children safe,” he said