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Rudy Ciccotti gives $5K to victim's mother

Ciccotti handed the check to McAllister at the Rudy Ciccotti Center on 30 Aviation Road, Colonie, and said that the woman was grateful.

"She doesn't speak much English, but she was hugging me to death," he said.

McAllister was not the only one receiving a donation from Ciccotti that day.

"I also gave $1,500 to Pastor Charlie," Ciccotti said, referring to Pastor Charlie Muller of the Victory Church in Albany.

Ciccotti donated the money to Muller to go toward an anti-gun program called Put It Down, which was started in the weeks following Thomas' death, to encourage city youth to give up their guns.

According to Muller, the program offers the kids a $150 non-refundable-for-cash gift certificate for Crossgates Mall in exchange for turning over their guns.

"Over the Fourth of July weekend, I believe we got about six or seven guns," said Muller.

Muller said the program has collected about 32 guns in the few weeks since it has been operating, averaging more than one gun a day.

As for how Ciccotti's donation will help the program, Muller said, "It's already gone."

Muller is advertising the program and calling on area businesses to help out. Right now, the program is focusing on the Arbor Hill area, as well as other inner city neighborhoods.

According to Muller, it is not only children who are exchanging guns with the church.

"I got one gun from a mother," said Muller. "Her son was in prison."

Muller said the church has received guns that the people submitting them owned themselves, as well as guns that people knew of in various locations throughout the neighborhoods.

"It's working," said Muller. "Give it six months and maybe the shootings will go away."

Muller said the church plans to continue the program for the rest of the year, then evaluate it in terms of continuation for next year.

To make a donation to the Put It Down program, contact Muller at 857-0726.""

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