This's year's Salute to Framingham honorees are Sharon Gilbert and Tony Tolson.
In 1992, the Salute to Framingham was created to honor individuals for their outstanding commitment and service to Framingham’s youth. These honorees join a select group of people who have made a real difference in the lives of the children of Framingham.
Sharon Gilbert is the owner and founder of Timothy’s Toy Box, a Framingham based non-profit corporation established in 2007 to help local children in need during the holiday season.
A Framingham native and Framingham North High School graduate, she works tirelessly throughout the year to fundraise, collect donations, and wrap and distribute the toys.
Each year since the inception of Timothy’s Toy Box in 2007, requests for help have grown.
In 2012, Timothy’s Toy Box provided 1,600 toys to 240 local children, including those in shelters. Her efforts go beyond that of a typical toy drive: she works closely with the local shelters to gather wish lists for the children to ensure they receive gifts they have requested. She enlists the help of friends, neighbors and local organizations and businesses to make sure that holiday wishes are filled.
Timothy’s Toy Box also provides everything families need to wrap the presents themselves (wrapping paper, tape, tags, scissors, batteries etc.) so they can share in the joy, while respecting each family’s anonymity and dignity. They also bring stuffed animals, toys and books to the Pediatric Unit at MetroWest Hospital and the Children’s Hospital Cancer Center. She credits her 9 year old son Timothy for being her faithful partner at Timothy’s Toy Box.
Tony Tolson, a Framingham native, has been active in the Town of Framingham youth sports for the past 10 years. As part of the Framingham Youth Football League, he has served as a coach and as a member on the Board of Directors. In 2011, his football team won the State Championship (the first in Framingham history) and went on to compete in the National Championship in Florida.
He also coaches youth basketball, including CYO Basketball, TBA Basketball and YMCA Basketball. His coaching style is to focus on fundamentals and theory. He strongly believes in education first, sports second, and encourages each of his players to pursue a college education.
When he is not coaching sports, Tolson is involved in fundraising for the homeless, food pantries and shelters, as well as Breast Cancer awareness initiatives
This year, the Salute to Framingham will present the Jim O’Connor Community Service Award to Samaritans, Inc.
Named for former FHS Athletic Director and founder of the Salute to Framingham, this award honors an organization whose work benefits the youth of Framingham.
Samaritans, Inc. serves the greater Boston and Metrowest communities in Massachusetts. A non-denominational, not-for-profit volunteer organization is dedicated to reducing the incidence of suicide by befriending individuals in crisis and educating the community about effective prevention strategies, Samaritans, Inc. serves more than 100,000 people each year. The services provided focus on suicide prevention, intervention and postvention. Their life-saving services are possible because of the help each year of more than 400 volunteers - 100 of them teen volunteers.
In addition to these honorees, the Salute also recognizes Framingham teachers and staff who make each day “special” in our public schools. We also acknowledge graduating FHS students who positively impact the school community.
The Salute to Framingham gala evening is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27 at 6pm at the Sheraton Framingham Ballroom. Complete details and ticket information are available at www.salute-to-framingham.com
All proceeds from the Salute to Framingham benefit the Framingham High School Foundation which supports the extracurricular Activities, Arts, and Athletics at Framingham High School.
Salute to Framingham is presented by NMTW Community Credit Union in partnership with other community sponsors.