Cumberland girl brings people together with Treats For Troops

Cumberland girl brings people together with Treats For Troops

Emily Raimondi, 12, of Cumberland, stands with all of the donated Halloween candy she has collected this year, almost 700 pounds, for Operation Holiday Cheer and Project Yellow Ribbon.

CUMBERLAND – Not being a big candy person, Emily Raimondi, 12, of Cumberland, came up with a plan last year to donate extra Halloween candy to troops.

This year’s haul, aided by lots of leftover candy due to lackluster trick-or-treating traffic, helped her far exceed the 2019 numbers. Last year they received about 400 pounds of candy. This year they are up to 685 pounds.

“This town really rallied,” said Emily’s mom, Erinn. “Emily helped me put together a map, all I did was drive and she got all the candy.”

Coming from a large military family and being big into community service, she said the effort was a natural fit. Erinn works at Veterans Affairs and helped her find the two organizations that they now give the candy to in Operation Holiday Cheer and Project Yellow Ribbon.

“I’m her secretary,” Erinn joked. “Operation Holiday Cheer has been around a long, long time. I reached out, having a huge veteran family, and found out this company is through the lieutenant governor’s office. I contacted them and they put me in touch with Project Yellow Ribbon, which takes chocolate.”

Emily said that once they get all the donated candy they sort it between chocolate and no chocolate. The chocolate will go to Project Yellow Ribbon while the rest goes to Operation Holiday Cheer, which puts together care packages to the already deployed.

This year was a little different with the pandemic. Erinn said small businesses were not able to participate as drop-off spots. But, with smaller Halloween celebrations and not as many trick-or-treaters, many Cumberland residents had an abundance of leftover candy.

“It was different this year,” Emily said about her experience collecting candy. “There was less interaction with people. But the reason we got so much candy was people were expecting more trick-or-treaters and there weren’t so many.”

The Raimondis spent six hours driving around picking up candy, also visiting drop-off locations at Town Hall and Mastery Martial Arts. The candy should be delivered out to troops this weekend.

“I just want to thank the community,” Erinn said. “The community rallied around Emily.”

Emily said that so many people reached out asking to donate a small bag of candy, but the bags ended up being huge.

“Small acts of kindness add up to something really big,” she said.

Erinn said that Emily was named for her father’s father, Emil, who was a prisoner of war in Germany. Emily added that her grandmother was the first woman officer in the Rhode Island National Guard, her uncle Billy is in the Space Force, and her grandfather is in the Army.

She said she would love to do this every year, as “it’s a lot of fun and has great effects.”

Emily has run numerous charitable efforts, including being part of the Travis Roy Foundation and creating a Facebook group to help the cause, Emily’s Cakes for a Cause.

The Travis Roy Foundation helps people with spinal cord injuries including research and getting supplies the injured party needs. Travis Roy suffered a paralyzing injury 11 seconds into his first hockey game for Boston University in 1995. Roy, who had befriended Emily, died on Oct. 29.

“This candy drive has been very therapeutic,” Erinn said for both of them. “It’s given her something to look forward to and to know that there are good people out there. It’s kept our mind off of how sad we are.”

Emily said she hopes to one day become a teacher. Her mom calls her “an old soul with a very giving heart.”