Jake Cosgrove may be well-known for his skills on the football and lacrosse fields, and Mark Porcelli may open eyes on the volleyball court, but these Eastport-South Manor student-athletes also comprise a group accomplishing even more extraordinary feats within the community.
Along with eight of their classmates – Nicholas and Ryan Morbillo, Jake Vormittag, James Graffagnino, Stephen Lukas, Jack Moran, Frankie Pappacoda, and Michael Pulcrano – Cosgrove and Porcelli make up Lion’s Heart Manorville Boys blue group. Lion’s Heart is a national nonprofit organization that helps connect students from grades 6-12 with local volunteer service opportunities.
For their collective efforts over the years, the group was recently honored with the 2021 T.O.B.Y. (Think of Others Before Yourself) Award.
Cosgrove said the group began to take form three years ago with the intent of brightening the lives of others.
"When all of us came together we were thinking that with all the bad stuff going on in the world," Cosgrove said, "it would be nice to bring a smile to someone’s face and help out the community the best that we could."
Once the COVID-19 pandemic struck over a year ago, Lion’s Heart Manorville understood that a strong presence would be their priority.
"At the beginning of the pandemic a lot of people during that time didn’t have stable jobs and things like that," Porcelli said. "So we did a lot of food drives and we also donated things. We also made cards and collected water bottles to raise money."
While many of their regularly scheduled events were canceled due to the pandemic, Cosgrove and company remained steadfast in their mission and nevertheless found numerous ways to make a difference.
During Thanksgiving the group was able to provide meals to over 200 families through their food drive, and even had enough food left over to stock three local pantries. They also helped out a number of families affected by cancer during the holiday season by delivering food and buying other necessities. Also included in their service were trips to Ronald McDonald House Charities for sick children, as well as collecting toys and school supplies for children.
"One thing we like to do a lot is go to this place called ‘Helping Makes U Happy,’" Porcelli said. "It’s located in Center Moriches and it’s an organization that helps out others through volunteer work. We make birthday bags for them and donate supplies that they need for others."
Porcelli said several life lessons have also been learned along the way.
"I think this is very important," Porcelli said. "And it also teaches me a lot of life lessons in that if you give to other people, you’ll get the same treatment. Whether it’s getting the same stuff back or how it just makes you feel good helping other people."
An increased sense of gratitude has also been one of the key takeaways for this group.
"Be thankful for what you have," Cosgrove said. "You look around with what we do and we’re thankful for what we have, we’re thankful for our parents and we never take anything for granted."