COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — High school seniors in Coventry are paying it forward, following a challenge from students at Cranston High School East.
Last week, Cranston East seniors donated a portion of their prom money to give back to the community. Knowing they will likely not have a prom, or at least the one they imagined, class leaders organized for meals to be donated to staff members at Scandanavian Communities in Cranston.
In an April 9 interview, senior class president Genesis Aldana told Eyewitness News she hoped giving back didn’t end with that donation. Cranston East then put out a “Pay it Forward Challenge” to other classes in Cranston East, plus Cranston High School West, Cumberland High School and Coventry High School.
A week later, Coventry High School (CHS) seniors accepted the challenge.
CHS senior class president Vanessa McDonald told Eyewitness News they took a portion of the senior class fund to cater lunch for staff at Lifespan Gateway South Shore Center in Charlestown. Donned with cloth face coverings, McDonald was joined by senior class treasurer Susan Read to make the delivery Wednesday afternoon.
The donation covered lunch for about 30 staff members including nurses, doctors and case managers.
“There was just a line of thank you’s, and it felt so good,” McDonald said.
McDonald said the inspiration came from her mother, who’s a nurse, and the decision to pick South Shore was a way to support essential workers who care for the mental health population.
At the same time, she said seniors purchased the food from Black Oak Kitchen & Drinks in Coventry as a way to support local restaurant workers, who are also struggling.
“They were so happy for us to use them and everything, and they were just humbled. They posted on their Instagram about us, it was so cute,” McDonald added. “It’s a two-in-one hit, helping our local restaurant near us, and then going to help the nurses.”
McDonald said she hopes the effort will continue with other CHS classes but is looking to challenge other high schools.
“The only thing we need right now is positivity, so it doesn’t matter about our school rivals or anything,” McDonald said. “Everything right now, we just need to come together and be one.”
A spokesperson from Lifespan told Eyewitness News in an email that social distancing was utilized during the drop-off, and that this was “a good deed done.”