Oswego, N.Y. - On February 28, the first annual 'New Year, New Shopping' challenge, held at Fitzhugh Park Elementary, proved to be a success. The challenge, which was held from January 1 to February 28, included participating grades 4, 5 and 6. The vision of this challenge was to increase awareness of locally-owned and operated businesses in the city of Oswego.

Marie Hage, intern at iHeartOswego.com, proposed the idea to Victoria Usherwood Gailinas, who is the co-founder of the I Heart Corp. "I have been living in Oswego for 4 years, and have been amazed at the local shops and restaurants that are established here," Hage said. "This is way more than a college town."

Hage, a recent graduate of SUNY Oswego, was determined to increase awareness of the locally-owned and operated businesses. In response, she developed the "New Year, New Shopping" challenge.

Every participant of the challenge received a small prize and in addition, the class with the most participants received a pizza party, compliments of Pizza Villa and iHeartOswego.com. The winner of the challenge was Mrs. Canale's 5th grade class, who was awarded the pizza party on May 5.

Hage and Gailinas personally delivered the pizza to Mrs. Canale's class and talked to the students about the importance of supporting locally-owned and operated businesses in Oswego. It was a great day full of fun and enjoyment for both the students and the staff of iHeart. This challenge is something that iHeart wishes to continue in the following years.

"I have enjoyed my four years in the city of Oswego and I wanted to give back in some way before I graduated," Hage said. "Developing a program that would educate others on the wonderful assets this city has to offer was a passion of mine. I am pleased with the success of the challenge and I hope this program will continue on for years to come."


CAPTION: Mrs. Canale's 5th grade class at Fitzhugh Park Elementary School pose during their pizza party.