The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

April 28, 2013

Person of the Week | Helping family of sick boy becomes project for fifth-grader

— Melissa Murin and her classmates at Cathedral Catholic Academy in Upper Yoder Township are preparing for an interscholastic reading competition Thursday at Forest Hills Middle School.

It’s a safe bet that her classmates that day will be using the bookmarks that she created for a good cause.

Melissa, a fifth-grade pupil, came up with the idea to make religious and “fun” bookmarks to raise money to help an infant boy from St. Clare of Assisi Roman Catholic in Woodvale, who is battling a rare form of leukemia.

The 11-year-old, who also attends St. Clare, sold the bookmarks for 50 cents each to her classmates, teachers and staff at school, raising nearly $400 to help pay the expenses of Mark Iannello and Crystal Mitchell of Tire Hill, whose son, Dominick, was a long-term patient at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and who still goes there for examinations.

“I felt badly because Dominick was born with leukemia,” Melissa said. “I just wanted to find a way to help them meet their expenses.”

Melissa’s project called for using gift-wrapping paper bearing secular and religious pictures and fastening them to scrapbook paper. To make the bookmarks durable, Melissa laminated them.

“I’m selling them to students and teachers at school,” she said.

“They’re really kind. Some of them paid more than 50 cents for the bookmark. One student bought 20 of them. He wanted to give them away as presents for Christmas.”

Some people ordered custom bookmarks, she said.

One person wanted footballs and baseballs on his bookmark, while one of the teachers wanted the words Grade 4 and Grade 5 on the bookmarks, Melissa said.

Melissa, daughter of Tracy and Michael Murin of Johnstown, said she has finished making the bookmarks for this year but will start again in September.

She said her mother and grandmother, Sandy Wilson, were a big help with the bookmark project.

Melissa keeps busy at school, serving as an altar server before daily Mass in the mornings.

A trumpet player, she is among students who are practicing for a joint concert of all Johnstown parochial schools May 15 at Bishop McCort Catholic High School.

Melissa also is an altar server at her church and sings in the children’s choir, called The Chorale.

She also takes dancing lessons at Jacqueline’s School of Dance in Westwood.

For her efforts, Melissa is the Person of the Week.

Iannello said his son, who will turn a year old May 6, has been in remission for nine months and is doing fine.

“She (Melissa) has a lot of compassion for someone that young,” he said, adding that trait is what is needed to do such a project.

He said he and Crystal think the world of Melissa.

Melissa also has organized dress-down days at school to raise money, he said.

“When Dominick came home from the hospital, we took him to the school to show him to Melissa and her classmates, the teachers and the principal,” he said.

“They were thrilled to see him and had their photographs taken with him,” Iannello said.

Rose Batzel, school principal, said Melissa’s compassion and empathy for baby Dominick is heartwarming.

“She demonstrated leadership skills by enlisting the aid of her classmates to create and sell the bookmarks,” Batzel said.

“These are traits learned at home and in school and carried out into the world. We couldn’t be more pleased and proud of her efforts.”

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat print edition.

Click here to subscribe to The Tribune-Democrat e-edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Flower2 Flowers' color doesn't have to fade

    Those pots of bright yellow daffodils, Easter lilies and hyacinths gracing the home this weekend do not have to end up in the trash bin when the blooms start to fade.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Refinancing could lower Richland School District's debt by $2.2M

    When Richland School District borrowed funds for its high school project a decade ago, board members circled “2014” on their calendars as a likely first option to refinance the debt.

    April 20, 2014

  • Pipeline to carry shale byproducts

    An 8-inch transmission line crossing Pennsylvania, including four municipalities in Cambria County, is being repurposed to carry some of the by-products from Marcellus and Utica shale production.

    April 20, 2014

  • Judge Creany, Timothy Vets courts gain support

    Signs of success are mostly anecdotal in Pennsylvania’s special courts for veterans, but judicial officials and lawmakers are so convinced of the program, they’re lobbying to expand it.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • pow21 Person of the Week: ‘I wanted to help’: Teen uses birthday to show love for children, animals

    Anastasia Machik’s love for children and animals inspired her to forgo her birthday gifts for the sake of the two.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Students taking steps to call attention to child abuse

    An upcoming community walk will help raise awareness of child abuse.

    April 20, 2014

  • In brief: PennDOT reports weekly work schedule

    April 20, 2014

  • District Deaths April 21, 2014

    April 20, 2014

  • Halfway house inmates can ease back into society

    Prison life can be a time warp.
    When inmates are locked away – for months, years, decades – society moves forward: Technology evolves, major events occur, pop culture changes. From a personal perspective, families and friends live their lives: weddings, funerals, graduations, births, retirements. All the while, criminals bide their time, existing in a regimented world of cement walls and metal bars.
    Almost all of them eventually rejoin society, though.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crime board took aim at house

    Johnstown’s unemployment rate is around 8 percent.
    One-third of the city’s population lives in poverty.
    Burglaries and assaults significantly increased between 2010 and 2012. There is a thriving illegal trade in heroin and prescription drugs.
    Given those conditions, it can be challenging for Johnstown Community Corrections Center residents to find jobs when living in the facility or to avoid falling back into a criminal lifestyle upon their release.

    April 19, 2014


Would you like to see the Johnstown Community Corrections Center remain open after its lease runs out on Oct. 11, 2015?

I'm not sure
     View Results
House Ads