Follansbee groups team to help tornado victims

FOLLANSBEE – A local business has teamed with the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce to help an Oklahoma family who lost their home in the recent tornado outbreaks, and the effort has expanded to include many others.

Vito “Skip” Cutrone, owner of Vito’s 2, and Tony Paesano, president of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, have announced the efforts will kick off with a boot drive from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 21 on Main Street (state Route 2) by the City Building.

Drivers will be invited to make a contribution for the the Barrett family of Newcastle, Okla.

Cutrone said he learned of Brandon and Amey Barrett and their children – Draik, 4, and Addison, 6 – through a Wellsburg family who had lived in Oklahoma but had moved back to Brooke County before the disaster.

He said news of the Barretts came after his daughter, Kayla, entered his restaurant, where she works, troubled by the aftermath of the massive tornadoes and suggested helping its victims.

Coincidentally, members of the chamber were discussing ways to help at their regular meeting that day at his restaurant, Cutrone said.

The discussion and an appeal for support at a recent Follansbee Council meeting has led to a variety of fundraising events being planned.

In addition to the boot drive, a poker run will be sponsored by the Red Knights motorcycle club at noon June 29 at Green Acres Cafe in Colliers.

Cutrone also will hold a spaghetti dinner from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 1 at the Follansbee Community House. He said the event is being held on a Monday because all weekends were booked for June and July.

The cost is $8 per person, with takeout available.

In addition, a breakfast buffet will be held from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. July 7 at Vito’s 2. The cost is $6 per person.

The restaurant already has raised $900 in donations from all desserts sold since June 1 and will continue to set aside all proceeds from desserts through the remainder of June for the Barrett family.

Cutrone said the Follansbee Community Days Committee has agreed to provide a free booth at the festival where food will be sold to raise money for the cause.

He added the Follansbee Cedar Lodge plans to revive its chicken roast as a fundraiser, and the Follansbee Softball League is planning an adult co-ed softball tournament to support the effort.

Cheerleaders with the Follansbee Blue Wave Youth Football League also have offered to collect donations at local businesses.

With the help of local funeral director Eric Fithyan, the chamber is asking area churches to conduct a special collection for the Barrett family. Church leaders may contact Fithyan at (304) 527-1717 for information.

With the help of Charlotte Kolenc at the Follansbee WesBanco branch, a fund has been established for contributions made for the Barretts through any WesBanco branch. They should be sent to: FC of C Disaster Relief Fund C/O Barrett Family.

Anyone with questions about the effort should contact Kayla Cutrone at cutronekayla@gmail.com or (304) 527-4440.

Cutrone said the Barretts are impressed by the outpouring of compassion and assistance shown by the people of Follansbee and recently commented on it during a radio interview.