Up on the rooftop … to help needy in Mattapoisett

By John Garcia
Contributing writer | SouthCoast Today

MATTAPOISETT — When educator Kevin Tavares wanted to make sure of a strong response from his students for their schools’ Food Drive, he promised them that he would sleep overnight on Center School’s roof if they brought in more non-perishable food items than he did.
His motivational promise worked, with the elementary schools’ students bringing in more than 800 non-perishable items, helping the schools collect more than 2,000 for the academic year.
“They really stepped up,” said Tavares, Old Hammondtown and Center School associate principal.
The food was donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank.
The schools had been conducting fundraising drives led by Beth Oleson of the Health Office all year, with each grade getting assigned its own month.
Tavares praised Oleson’s efforts in coordinating the drive. “She deserves all the credit,” he said.
In June, the staff made a final push for donations, with every grade getting the opportunity to provide additional items.
Tavares said the administrators and staff wanted to drive home to students the importance of helping the hungry.
“We get to go on school vacation, but hunger doesn’t,” he said.
Tavares donated 480 items that month, promising to sleep on the roof on the second to last day of the school year if the students surpassed that total.
He said his challenge was met with excitement by the student body and teachers.
“I think it was a motivating factor to get me up on that roof,” he said.
On Thursday, June 18, he climbed to the roof of the school around 2:30 p.m., equipped with a tent, air mattress and sleeping bag. From that perch, Tavares waved goodbye to the students as they departed on the school buses.
As the night grew late, he said his attempts to sleep were interrupted by the sound of sirens and fire trucks. Tavares looked out to see several police and fire vehicles approaching Center School.
Members of the both the police and fire departments stepped out of the vehicles to deliver Tavares 340 additional canned goods.
Tavares said after that he was able to get a few hours of sleep until the birds began to chirp in the morning. He climbed down from the roof at the start of the school day.
He said the drive taught students a valuable lesson about the importance of helping others
“You can make a difference just contributing one can,” he said.
Although this was the first year that the schools ran a drive of this scale, Tavares expressed confidence that they would not only bring the event back for subsequent years but surpass the success of this school year.
“We’re hoping to make it bigger and better next year,” he said.

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