The COVID-19 crisis has affected everyone in some way. For many Class of 2020 high school seniors, it’s the cancellation of prom and graduation.
While members of American Legion Post 139 in Milford, Pa., couldn’t change that outcome for the nearly 400 seniors at Delaware Valley High School who won’t be attending a graduation ceremony in cap and gown to receive their diploma, the post still found a way to recognize the students.
An effort has been initiated by Post 139 Commander Connie Harvey and Service Officer Gary Brennan to put the face of every graduating senior on a banner for display in downtown Milford storefronts or outside the post home. The “Find Your Senior” will be an opportunity for the graduating seniors to find their face in the small town and feel appreciated, and for the community to show congratulations.
“The seniors deserve this and we need to support them,” Harvey said. “We felt one way to give back to the community was to bring attention to the businesses in town and to the seniors as they need to be recognized; they are our future.”
Harvey contacted the local JEM Screen Printing, who will be creating the single-sided 12x18-inch vinyl banners for the price of $20 apiece. Post 139 is working with Lifetouch Photography to obtain the senior photos, or, students can send in a high res photo of their choice to the printing company. The students or their family can pay the $20 through a PayPal account set up by Harvey; donations also are accepted as part of “Adopt a Senior.”
“A lot of families are struggling at this time so it’s about coming together as one to make this happen,” Harvey said. The banners are set to be displayed the first week of June, however, if not all seniors have a banner, it won’t happen. “We will not put them out unless every senior is out there. We don’t want anyone to be left out.”
So far more than $1,500 has been donated to the PayPal account. And last week, Brennan wrote a personal check for $200 to adopt 10 seniors. He then challenged others during a news interview to match his donation or at least adopt one senior. Post 139 took on that challenge.
The post started providing $10 to-go meals, kids eat free, on Fridays after the pandemic has caused their doors to close temporarily. Harvey said they always sell out of the more than 100 meals that they have served weekly. During their to-go dinner on May 1, she said $2 from every meal went toward the “Adopt a Senior” and they matched Brennan’s challenge. This Friday for the post’s to-go ham dinner, Harvey wants to beat last week’s goal and sell 150 dinners to adopt 15 more seniors.
“Our community sponsors us all year long. So as veterans we really need to step up to the plate and give back to the community,” Harvey said. “This is a time to give back and we’re challenging everybody to help us give these kids something they deserve.”
Once the banners are displayed in Milford, the seniors will search for their photo in the community. “It’s like a little scavenger hunt,” Harvey said. And any money left over will be given to the 2020 senior class for a party once social distancing orders are lifted, or for their choosing such as graduation gifts.
The banner idea was sparked from a phone call between Harvey and Brennan, and “we just ran with it,” Harvey said. “We just want to see (the graduation Class of 2020) faces out there and recognize them. The town supports each other so much, and we have such great people in this town that everybody works together.”