BILLERICA, MA — A night of music, food and dance at Shawsheen Valley Technical High School brought awareness and funding to suicide prevention and hunger awareness.
The March 9 sold-out event featured competitive dance teams from Debi’s Dance Studio in Wilmington, as well as poets, musicians and theater performances by Shawsheen students.
Proceeds from the night benefited both the Samaritans in their quest to prevent suicide and the Rise Against Hunger organization, whose mission is to end world hunger.
The theme and décor of the night merged the philosophies of both organizations.
Purple roses adorned the tables, as purple is the color the Samaritans use for hope. On the guest tables, there were pictures of children and families from all of the countries that will benefit from the Rise Against Hunger meals. Purple and white balloons with a heart on top decorated the cafeteria. And at the end of the night, attendees received a purple foiled chocolate heart.
“We carried the theme throughout,” Shawsheen Guidance Counselor Angela Caira said. “We wanted people to know why we were raising money. The theme resonated from the beginning of the event to the end.”
“We believe that these two organizations that we raised money for, they build themselves on the premise of caring and kindness,” said Caira. “They would not be successful if they did not do everything with a heartfelt message.”
According to Caira, this event was originally formed to benefit suicide prevention. The decision to include the Rise Against Hunger organization was made after Caira was approached by a Shawsheen student looking to bring awareness and support to this organization.
Megan Brown, a sophomore from Billerica, had learned about the Rise Against Hunger organization and their meal packaging days, where teams build and package meals to be sent to third world countries.
Since the beginning of the year, Brown sought donations at various school functions including sporting events, open houses and more. But the need to raise nearly $3,000 to support a packaging day was going to require major fundraising. Caira, motivated by Brown’s enthusiasm for the project, offered to add her charity to the event.
“She had a passion for the cause and she wanted to educate the students about it,” Caira said. “I told her she had to dedicate herself to the cause and make sure the orientation leader program got behind her.”
The Shawsheen orientation leaders were most influential to the success of the event. Samuel Chebook and Michael Reppucci served as Masters of Ceremonies; Isabella Richard made the floral centerpieces; and Marina Duffy, Nancy Sousa, Asia Huoy and Corinna Jarzynka helped prepare and serve the meals. Jessica Turner, Quinn Ferreira, Jack Rettman, Jamie Quintiliani, Samantha Moriconi, Emily Morris, Taylor Bellavia, Veronika Bazzinotti, Alicia Barbati, Christa Davis, and Logan Salvi also contributed to the success of the event.
Caira said orientation leaders serve as mentors to students, promoting character, suicide prevention and anti-bullying programs.
“I am really proud of the entire orientation program for putting forth an effort to make sure this came to fruition and was successful,” said Caira. “And I am proud of Megan for her commitment to this particular cause and glad we were able to help bring her closer to her goal.”
Packaging day was supposed to be held March 13 at Shawsheen but was cancelled due to snow. On packaging day, Rise Against Hunger brings all of the ingredients for students and staff to create more than 10,000 rice meals. The meals are then packaged and shipped to third world countries to combat hunger. A new packaging date will be set for later this spring.
“Honestly the outcome was amazing,” Megan said.
(NOTE: The above press release is from the Shawsheen Tech.)
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