Mark Rafuse wanted to do a good deed. The Huntington High School senior thought it would be neat to help someone in need. So last November he sat down and thought about how he could make a difference in the community.
The teenager kicked around some ideas. Then one day while cleaning his room he came across a lot of extra blankets. “I was like, “if we have a lot of extra blankets to donate, so would other people,” Mr. Rafuse recalled. “So I went around putting up posters and making announcements and getting the word out. Over time people came in with tons of blankets.”
The senior touched base with the Family Service League on Park Avenue in Huntington and teamed up with Lisa Jamison. The organization’s outpost at Manor Field was having an event in early February to benefit local children, who would be able to choose a book, blanket and pajamas all donated by various groups. Mr. Rafuse took on the blanket part.
The teenager and his mom arranged a drop-off at their home and also ran pick-ups to collect items from the houses of those willing to aid the cause. Mr. Rafuse also set-up a box for donations in the high school athletic office and arranged to have announcements made in the morning for students and staff to bring in blankets as well.
Huntington senior Mark Rafuse.
By the time the drive wrapped up, Mr. Rafuse had collected 80 blankets with the help of some of his Huntington lacrosse teammates. The blankets made for many warm nights for those in need.
Mr. Rafuse has won varsity letters in soccer, indoor track and lacrosse with the Blue Devils. He has committed to play soccer and lacrosse at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania following his graduation in June. He’s currently considering a career in photo journalism and has arranged an internship with Sports Illustrated. He’ll also be exploring other options.
The teenager earned an academic scholarship worth $15,000 and a second one based on his photo portfolio. Mr. Rafuse plans to major in art.