Central Catholic High School junior Reilly Dittemore had a pretty startling revelation when she was just in the fourth grade.
“In fourth grade, I was driving with my mom during the holidays and noticed a man holding a sign that read, ‘Hungry, Cold and Homeless’,” Dittemore said. “I asked my mom, ‘Where do they live when it’s snowing outside?’ My mom answered by saying, ‘They live anywhere they can find shelter from the cold and whatever door they find open.’ I wanted to find a viable idea to help. So I decided to collect blankets for the homeless or those that are in need.”
To date, Dittemore has collected more than 1,000 blankets through her “Operation Blanket Project.” Local businesses have allowed Dittemore to advertise and collect blankets at their locations, and Central Catholic High School, St. Joan of Arc, 3 Brothers Corner Tavern and the Goddard School in Jackson Township have been instrumental in helping Dittemore with her project.
Dittemore collects blankets in November and December, and they are distributed to various shelters in the first week of January.
“I am blessed to see so many smiles and know I truly make a difference,” she said. “Without the community’s help, I wouldn’t be able to help those who truly need it. I love volunteering in any way possible.”
While Dittemore is highly proactive with “Operation Blanket,” she enjoys getting out and about to enjoy the many restaurants, shopping centers and festivities Stark County has to offer. Here are her five favorites.
1. 91 RESTAURANT GROUP
“My favorite restaurant is 91 Restaurant Group. I love 3 Brothers, 91 and Table 6, too. They all have different styles of food and environment but are amazing. My friends and I have spent many nights after our football games at 3 Brothers. It definitely is a place that brings wonderful memories for me and my friends. I also work at 91 in Jackson Township, and I love seeing everyone come in and greeting them as a hostess.”
2. BELDEN VILLAGE MALL
“I love shopping at Belden Village Mall. I love all the stores, but Hollister, American Eagle, Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret are my favorites.”
3. JACKSON PARK
“I love playing tennis at Jackson Park with my boyfriend, Adrian. He plays tennis for Central Catholic, and he has been teaching me how to play. I truly enjoy the sport.”
4. HALL OF FAME EVENTS
“Stark County is known for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is America’s premier sports museum. I look forward to all the summer events, including the Fashion Show, during the Hall of Fame festivities. I also look forward to the Balloon Fest every year.”
5. VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES
“I love all the volunteering opportunities that Stark County offers to allow involvement in the community. I also love that Central Catholic makes this a requirement to not just be academically successful, but to know your community and help others. Stark County has many opportunities for everyone to be involved in the community.”