EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 25, 2012

Editorial: Some cheers, some jeers for recent newsmakers

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CHEERS to you, our friends and readers, for giving so generously to the Santa Fund. As of Monday, donations to the fund totaled $100,429.

Your generosity helps people like Lisa, a single mother with three children. Lisa works while the children are in school, but her pay is low and there is little left over after necessities are met. Lisa hopes that this year the Santa Fund can help her get warm winter coats for the children.

The Santa Fund also helps people like Veronica, who is on transitional assistance and living in a motel with her three children until an apartment can be found. She was hoping for a few gifts to surprise her children with on Christmas morning.

Our Santa Fund accepts donations all year round. You can help these people in need — our neighbors here in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire — with a donation by cash, check, VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express made in person at our office or mailed to Eagle-Tribune Santa Fund, 100 Turnpike St., North Andover, MA 01845.

Thank you for your generosity and support.

CHEERS to two brothers from Salem, N.H., who are building a business making and selling traditional Italian liqueurs.

Philip and Nick Mastroianni are the co-owners of Fabrizia Spirits in Salem, and the makers of Fabrizia Limoncello, a gold medal winning spirit that is growing in popularity in New Hampshire and several other states.

The Mastroiannis have been making limoncello for about four years now. Their recipe is based on one made by a cousin in Calabria, Italy. At first, Philip made the liqueur for himself and family. But a relative suggested he produce it for sale and thus a business was born.

Now, they have two full-time employees, a gold medal from the 2012 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a following that’s growing across the country.

“We are Number 2 of nine brands of limoncello in New Hampshire, Number 2 in Vermont, Number 2 in Ohio,” Mastroianni said. “We have no problem being Number 2.”

Now, the Mastroianni brothers are expanding their product line with the introduction of a blood orange spirit, Fabrizia Blood Orange Liqueur.

Congratulations to the Mastroianni brothers for keeping traditional tastes alive. We wish them much success in their venture.

CHEERS to those who pitched in to help a disabled veteran.

Frank Gioia of Methuen has needed a wheelchair ramp at his home since he suffered a double stroke seven years ago that paralyzed much of the left side of his body. But the 70-year-old Vietnam veteran could not afford to have a ramp installed.

So a coalition of local community agencies and veterans organizations came to help. They include the Lawrence/Methuen Community Coalition (LMCC), the Queen City Chapter No. 2, the Methuen Veteran Services Office, a city councilor who built the ramp pro bono and the Home Depot Foundation – which awarded a $5,000 grant that will pay for the supplies to build several ramps for veterans.

“Before the ramp, his wife would have to help him walk up five steps to get in the house,” Don Silva, treasurer of the local DAV chapter, which serves Lawrence, Methuen, Andover and North Andover, told reporter Mark E. Vogler. “So, this is a big relief for her as well as him.”

Gioia was grateful for the help, as was his wife, Carol, who suffers from a lung disease and must use oxygen to help her breathe.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than this,” said Gioia. “If it wasn’t for all these gentlemen here today, I’d never see one of these. I can’t thank them enough.”

Thanks to all who helped Gioia get his ramp. And thanks to all those who assist veterans in need, wherever they may be. These veterans answered the call to fight for our country. It is only fitting that we return the favor when they need our help.