Coats for Cade

Published 7:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cade Belsome

Cade Belsome

In October, Tonya Cialona started collecting donations from the Picayune community to bring awareness to Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, a rare blood disease that took the life of her 2-year-old grandson, Cade Belsome, in 2010.

“The last thing I purchased Cade was a hoodie, some gloves and a hat to keep him warm during the winter. As a few years went by, I asked some people what is one of the biggest needs for the kids in the community and I heard a lot of requests for coats, which started this fundraiser,” Cialona said.

Cialona, a local business owner, said she enjoys giving back to her community any way she can, and with “Coats for Cade” she hopes to give the community a chance to understand the disease and help those in need.

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In previous years, she said the community donated over 300 coats, a number which grows every year.

“This started out with mainly children on our minds, but throughout the process, we found that adults are also in need so we expanded our horizon,” Cialona said.

In addition to collecting coats of all sizes, Cialona said she will accept a broader variety of things that can keep people warm like blankets, winter gloves and socks.

She also said this is a perfect opportunity to help local students by collecting donated school uniforms and gym clothes.

“These are growing kids and some of them cannot fit in their old uniforms and also can’t afford new ones,” Cialona said.

Without their gym clothes, she said the students cannot participate in the Physical Education class, which hinders their grade as well as their health.

“I feel very grateful that my community will join with me and help these families get back on their feet,” Cialona said. “It’s a great feeling to know that every kid is taken care of in our community.”

Cialona hopes to provide warmth for everyone in need—from senior citizens to toddlers—with the help of the community.

Recently, Cialona said Uniforms by Bales donated a number of sweatpants and since October, she has received more than a hundred donations.

“We want to get bigger every year, but need the community to come together to make that happen,” Cialona said. “It’s alarming how quickly a need for something like this can come into someone’s life.”

Donations will be accepted until the winter season ends.

To donate any clothes, blankets or school uniforms to needy citizens of the community, call Tonya Cialona at 601-347-7548 or visit the fundraiser’s Facebook page at Crusade for Cade.

People can also go to Bodies by Tonya, located at 111 North Main Street in Picayune to drop off donations.