A familiar face around town is working hard to keep quality service and the yearly “Coats for Kids” tradition alive and well at Spa Cleaners in the Village of Ballston Spa.
Dave and Karen Avenarius, proprietors of Cunningham’s Ice since 2003, purchased the business last December. Previous owner Miles Cornthwaite owned Spa Cleaners for 42 years, having purchased the laundromat, and adding on the dry cleaning services.
“Coats for Kids” is a program where anyone can donate outerwear and the dry cleaner provides professional cleaning services at no cost to the donor or the recipient. Sponsored by WTEN, the program runs Oct. 16 until Nov. 12.
According to long-time store manager Paulette Houck, the coats primarily go to families in need at Saratoga County Equal Opportunity Council (EOC), however, donations are given to anyone in need based on inventory available. Coats for children are the goal, however, coats for adults and teens are also needed.
Houck has personally been involved with “Coats for Kids” programs for over 27 years.
Two huge bags of hand-crafted hats and mittens from Karen Markert of Ballston Lake are new to the effort this year. Markert’s daughter Pam Wantuch is general manager for Spa Cleaners.
The community give-back is enormous according to Mayor John Romano. Each year, about 200 coats are donated, in years past up to 300 coats were distributed. Thousands of warm weather pieces have been given to local residents in need. The students from St. Mary’s school on Milton Ave. in Ballston Spa are regular donors to the program.
“I think it’s a great program and serves such a valuable purpose in the community,” said Romano.
According to Dave Avenarius, the “Coats for Kids” program is only one part of the community care found at the dry clean operation.
“Local law enforcement, Village police, members of the Sheriff’s department all get their uniforms cleaned with us for half price. All the volunteer firemen get their full uniforms cleaned for only the cost of the shirt, roughly $3.00. We do the village flags, the little flags at no charge each year, the ones seen up and down Milton Ave. and the very, very large flags, the 60-footers from the surrounding fire companies will come in, we do those for half price,” said Avenarius.
“Dave has continued to do the things that Miles had done, I think it’s great for the community,” said Houck.
Monetary donations are welcomed towards cleaning costs for neighbors who want to help but may not have a coat to donate.
Spa Cleaners is the third location for Dave and Karen Avenarius. They continue to own and operate Cunningham’s Laundromat on the corner of Rt 50 and East High St., Ballston Spa and a location in Socha Plaza, Glenville.