Blast From The Past

For more than a decade, teens who live near Riverdale Road have gathered toys and nonperishable food to help families in need of Christmas cheer.
For more than a decade, teens who live near Riverdale Road have gathered toys and nonperishable food to help families in need of Christmas cheer.
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Have you ever read a great novel, only to be dismayed at the discovery of a cliffhanger? Have you ever glanced over a news article, only to wonder what happened to the child prodigy with Broadway aspirations or the old lady who lived in a shoe? (OK, maybe that last example wasn’t from a news story).

The Voice staff is looking back at stories covered in past years to bring you an update. This month, we revisited articles on a community holiday drive and a young Michael Jackson impersonator.

 

Riverdale Reindeer Ride Again

Print Date: December 7, 2017

For more than a decade, teens who live near Riverdale Road have gathered toys and nonperishable food to help families in need of Christmas cheer. They call themselves the Riverdale Reindeer, and they give their bounty to the nonprofit Take Back Our Streets (TBOS).

The effort was originally spearheaded by Tim George, then an eighth-grader who lived in the Riverdale community, who collected food and toys along his paper route in the Riverdale Road area for a service project. Encouraged by the response and feedback, he asked friends to join him the following year.

Through the years, the responsibility has been passed to relatives and friends. Last year, Jacquelyn Colangelo wore the lead reindeer antlers and many neighbors got involved. Some prepared the “sleighs,” which are trailers decorated and pulled behind cars.

The group distributes flyers to more than 350 homes a week before they head out for the collection. This year, Jacquelyn’s brother Andrew led the effort. Volunteers distributed flyers in late November, held a toy collection on December 2 and dropped off the toys at Michael’s Eighth Avenue on December 5.

TBOS leaders usually transfer the gifts to members of Abundant Life Church in Glen Burnie, but this year, TBOS is working with Walk the Walk Foundation, whose volunteers are consulting parents to learn what specific gifts their kids want.

“If a family has two kids, sometimes a volunteer from one church might provide $100 to a kid and someone from another church might provide $40 to the other kid,” explained Mike Wagner, TBOS president. “We’re trying to provide more equity this year, so there’s some humanity in the way Walk the Walk is doing this.”

The Colangelo family has been part of the Riverdale Reindeer family for about seven years.

“I’ve seen big trash cans full of canned goods, and I’ve seen big, expensive toys,” Andrew said. “We just want to give back and help others who are unfortunate.”

Next year, David Colangelo will take charge.

Wager said it’s hard to quantify the number of toys or canned goods collected each year by the Riverdale Reindeer, but their efforts make a big impact.

“These guys are like elves, just showing up with stuff they collected,” Wagner said. “Jacquelyn was a young go-getter and now she’s passed the torch to her brothers. A trail has been blazed with these guys.”

Nicholas Stohler Wows The Crowd With Michael Jackson Impression

Print Date: December 7, 2017

Local fourth-grader Nicholas Stohler raised more than $1,200 and moonwalked his way into the hearts of his community in 2017 on his journey to raise money and awareness of the blood cancer that took the life of his grandmother.

Nicholas started with a personal concert for friends and neighbors, impersonating Michael Jackson to accrue funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).

In years past, Nicholas had asked for donations to the LLS in lieu of birthday presents, so when he saw his first Michael Jackson music video, it came as no surprise to his mother, Angela Stohler, that he would use his interests for altruistic purposes.

“I thought maybe he would raise a couple hundred dollars,” she said, adding that $300 was the goal.

His concert raised $879, which prompted the LLS to invite him to perform a 30-minute act during the Light The Night event in Baltimore in November 2017.

Since then, he has gained even more fame as a Random Acts of Light recipient in February 2018. Introduced by the LLS, the initiative is a movement to bring moments of light to people suffering from blood cancers who are feeling overwhelmed in the darkness that can come with a cancer diagnosis.

“It’s a way to honor those who find ways of bringing joy to people with cancer,” Angela Stohler said.

Nicholas was rewarded with a meet and greet with the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.” He posed for a picture with dancer Alan Bersten, talked with dancers Jenna Johnson and Sharna Burgess, and he even performed one of his dance routines.

The last year has been a dream come true for Nicholas, who began entertaining at 5 years old, when he witnessed a friend of his, who eventually became one of his backup dancers, perform the dance from the “Thriller” music video.

Patiently examining dozens of YouTube videos, he slowly perfected each move, built a collection of costumes and eventually choreographed a 45-minute performance.

Nicholas also performs magic and is a YouTube personality. Asked about his goals, he said, “It’s more about how I make people happy. I love going onstage and making people happy.”

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