Kaleigh Sidaras wanted to give back.
The Floyd girls soccer coach, who is also a fourth-grade teacher at Hobart Elementary school in the district, wanted to thank the Shirley Ambulance Company, which had recently taken the time to be part of a parade around the community geared toward the younger students.
“Here were people putting their lives in danger during this tough time still taking the time out to help put smiles on the kids faces,” Sidaras said.
The idea was to donate meals to the ambulance workers to show appreciation.
“I talked to my coaches first and then got in touch with one of my captains,” Sidaras said. “The team loved the idea. We also have a mom, Kim Vlacich, who also has a son on the boys team and we got them involved to bring the teams together.”
From there things quickly evolved organically as the teams and their families rallied together to show support in this time of need.
“I put out a message to the entire program, from the middle school teams to alumni,” Floyd boys soccer coach Paul Paniccia said. “We thought we could raise a few hundred dollars.”
Vlacich set up a Venmo account and the donations started pouring in.
“All of a sudden within two days we had $900,” Paniccia said. “I sent out one more email and the coaches and the parents chipped in even more and in the end we raised $1,145.”
It was enough to feed not just the Shirley Ambulance company but also other local front-line workers.
“The feeling of helping others is amazing,” Matt Vlacich, a junior on the boys team said. “Helping the community is such an important thing, especially in these times. We recognized that it was our duty to give something back.”
Meals were also donated to the ambulance companies in Mastic and Mastic Beach, healthcare workers in the COVID-19 units at Stony Brook and North Shore hospitals, police officers from Suffolk’s 7th Precinct and facility workers in the Floyd district.
“It was amazing to be a part of,” Kamryn Berberich, a senior on the girls team, said. “Everyone was so generous. It’s great to help those who are helping us the most and seeing the community come together like I knew we could.”
Said Sidaras, “It speaks volumes about these kids. It’s about teaching them so much more than just soccer.”