High school students help local businesses in Hopewell Valley

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Hopewell Valley Central High School (HVCHS) students are coming to the financial aid of local businesses in the valley, as the coronavirus pandemic’s economic toll continues.

Through selling custom T-shirts HVCHS’s Class of 2022 has raised $9,580 to support businesses in Pennington, Hopewell Township and Hopewell Borough, according to HVCHS teacher Elizabeth Dykty, who is one of the class advisors.

Dykty, along with parent volunteer Lorie Zangrilli, advised the students during their recent effort which had officially ended on May 18.

“The kids were really excited to be able to take action to do something for their community,” Dykty said.

She added that the students could sell the shirts again if there is interest.

Pennington Mayor Joe Lawver is coordinating with Hopewell Township Mayor Kristin McLaughlin and Hopewell Borough Mayor Paul Anzano to develop a plan on how to divide the money that was raised.

“We will get together and hopefully come up with a plan that does not take long to implement, because obviously getting money into the hands of businesses is important,” Lawver said. “I give full credit to the Class of 2022. It was remarkable that they were able to raise that much through selling T-shirts.”

He added that the fundraising effort speaks volumes.

“At a time where it is very easy for everyone to look inward and dwell on how difficult this is on them and perhaps their family, these kids took the initiative,” Lawver said. “We have seen this throughout the pandemic whether it is neighbor helping neighbor, coordination through the three municipalities or nonprofits.”

The T-shirts presented the words “Hopewell Strong” and a slogan “Apart Yet United in 2020.”

“I am so incredibly proud of our students for thinking of others during this unprecedented time, and looking for ways to support those in need. I think it shows the compassion and empathy our students have, and their desire to assist when they can,” HVCHS Principal Tana Smith said. “They are looking for ways to make their world a better place, and that exemplifies their great character.”

She hopes students continue to look for opportunities to help others.

“We’ve had students raise funds for our Hopewell Valley Mobile Food pantry, deliver food and supplies to those who cannot leave their homes, sew masks for those on the front lines, just to name a few,” Smith said. “I encourage all of our students to be mindful of those around them, look for opportunities to help others, and to make someone’s day, no matter how small the deed.”

Superintendent of Schools Thomas Smith added that the fundraiser by the students was a beacon of light during a difficult period.

“The T-shirt fundraiser, as well as other efforts by our students and staff, has provided our community with a shining light during a difficult time. It wasn’t a planned fundraiser, it was designed by the students with the sole purpose to give back to our local businesses,” Smith said. “The fact that they put others first during this time is a testament to our students. I couldn’t be more proud of the resilience that our students and staff have shown.”