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  • By Stacy Gittleman

Raymond Margherio and Drew Prokop

For high school seniors Raymond Margherio and Drew Prokop, doing good for others runs in the family. In 2014, their big sisters Eliana Margherio and Emily Prokop – now both studying business in college – started a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged teens called Trends for Teens (TFT).

Under the girl's leadership, TFT raised $50,000 for school supplies, clothing, and accessories for homeless and low-income teens in the Detroit metro area which were distributed in five pop-up stores located in schools. Items were "sold" to students who traded in merits earned through academic, athletic and civic achievements.

"When my sister ran (TFT), she made others happy by getting rewarded when they achieved their goals," said Prokop, a senior at Seaholm High School, who hopes to study broadcasting in college. "When our sisters graduated in 2017, Raymond and I took over TFT as co-presidents and put our own athletic spin on it."

The boys decided they wanted to focus their philanthropic efforts on Loyola High School, a private Catholic school in Detroit.

As a punter and a linebacker, Margherio knows the kind of beating a football player must endure. The Detroit Lions recently donated new football helmets to the Loyola Bulldogs. But new shoulder padding was sorely needed. After the boys got to know their fellow athletes in Detroit, they spent the summer fundraising through backyard barbecue benefits, a letter-writing campaign and working with Detroit-based athletic equipment manufacturer Xenith to match their efforts. TFT raised $2,000, and with the help of Detroit-based athletic manufacturer Xenith, provided the Bulldogs new shoulder pads in time for the fall football season.

"When we met with the football players at Loyola, we looked at the condition of their equipment, and we were just like, wow," said Margherio, a senior at Brother Rice. "We thought ‘Why shouldn't they have as good equipment as we do, just because they live in the city and we live in the suburbs?' And from there, TFT began to fundraise for their team."

The boys also started a varsity letter sweater campaign that so far has raised enough money to purchase 75 letter sweaters to deserving Loyola scholars who have earned a letter by participating in an extracurricular activity.

Bill McGrail, Loyola's director of advancement, said the teens have greatly helped his high school's mission. "Thanks to their support, it's great to know that our young men are in the best equipment available with the proper fit to help ensure they are as protected as they can be when they compete on the football field."

After the frenzy of football season, the boys want to go high tech. Detroit high schools need computers and tablets, and they hope to fundraise for another city high school to provide them with 21st century essentials for academic success.

The boys say TFT will continue after they graduate thanks to friends and their younger sisters. Prokop hopes to hand down his responsibilities to his sister Jules, and Margherio hopes to do the same with his sister, Molly. With his goals set on studying business in college, Margherio's work with TFT has shown him how businesses can work with non-profit organizations to do good for others.

"I'm looking to pass this on to younger friends," said Margherio. "I am trying my best to lead by example and make sure my younger classmates understand the importance of helping others and to teach them how TFT operates. And for Drew and I, we are pretty sure our little sisters will continue running this non-profit that brings happiness to the kids it helps."

Photo: Laurie Tennent

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