Sheri and Steve Amato Named 2017 Person of the Year

By at November 30, 2017 | 2:30 pm | Print


For the fourth year, the New Britain City Journal has named a person of the Year. For 2017, Sheri and Steve Amato have taken that honor.

The Amatos, owners of Amato’s Toy and Hobby, were named for all they do for the City.

“I think this is really cool. It is nice to be recognized,” said Steve. “We just enjoy participating in the community. It is a real good feeling. It’s better to give then receive.”

“I am very surprised. I never saw this coming,” said Sheri. “We are so honored.”

In 2017 New Britain saw the movie “A Very Merry Toy Store” filmed throughout the City thanks to the Amatos. Steve Amato met a movie producer at West Side Tavern and told them he had a toy store. Later, someone from Synthetic Cinema International called back asking if Steve would allow them to film in the store. He said ‘yes’ and throughout the summer residents met the likes of Mario Lopez, Melissa Joan Hart, Beth Broderick, Brian Dennehy, Billy Gardell, Mario Cantone and more.

As crowds formed in front of their Main St. store during filming, the duo left free water and snacks in front of Amato’s for those waiting hours to view the stars.

Because of this film, the City was abuzz and residents prepared to be stars themselves on the screen for a few moments.

The Amatos did not stop there. They held a premiere showing of the movie, which was aired Nov. 26 on Lifetime, and raised 200 food items and $2,000 for the Salvation Army in New Britain.

The Amatos also encourage customers at their store to make cash donations to the Salvation Army in any denomination for the purchase of toys for needy children. Amato’s matches them with merchandise valued at twice the amount of the donations and transport them to the Salvation Army.

“We are working with a school for a toy drive for the children coming here from Puerto Rico,” said Steve. “We are also doing a ‘Stuff-a-Cruiser’ at the store on Dec. 9.”

This Saturday the Amatos are having an event at the store with a radio station and Mofongo. If you bring in a food donation, you get a free photo with Santa Claus.

But, New Britain kids are not the only ones the Amatos look to help.

Sheri Amato said, “We also did a fundraiser this year that if you bought a jar of jam for $5, the money went to Hurricane victims in Puerto Rico and Texas.”

Last year, the Amatos delivered over 5,000 toys to Louisiana flood victims. In August, of 2016, prolonged rainfall in Louisiana resulted in catastrophic flooding that submerged thousands of homes and businesses. Louisiana’s governor, John Bel Edwards, called the disaster a “historic, unprecedented flooding event” and declared a state of emergency.

After driving two and one-half days to get to Louisiana (3,000 miles overall) the Amatos were able to deliver toys to Salvation Army locations set up to help those who lost their homes.

The Amatos put the word out on Facebook and immediately the community responded.

“I was amazed at the generosity of the people back home. People we didn’t even know heard about it and came in to help,” said Steve during his trip last year. “We brought a van 100 percent packed and a cargo hitch. We raised about $4,000 which enabled us to bring about $40,000 in retail stuff. Vendors gave us super deals.”

“It was a wonderful selfless act that they did. They are two shining examples of how caring the City of New Britain is and how caring our people are,” said Mayor Erin Stewart when the couple returned from their trip. “They were able to bring joy during a tough time. It shows the character of the Amatos.”

Across the City people praised the special couple.

“Steve and Sheri Amato’s commitment to the City of New Britain has raised the bar very high. Their family has a long heritage of dedication to our Downtown, and this continues as they both are involved in many organizations and events that make our town so unique,” said Gerry Amodio, downtown district director. “Their store is a step back in time, an iconic stop on anyone’s trip to Main Street. We are so very lucky to call them our neighbor, and they work each day to make New Britain better in so many ways. Congratulations & Thank You!”

Past recipients of Person the Year include Mayor Erin Stewart, Houston Astros George Springer and Superintendent Nancy Sarra.


.News Feature

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