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Teens raise thousands for graduation vacation abroad, but donate it to help community instead

Teens raise thousands for graduation vacation abroad, but donate it to help community instead

Some of the money donated by the teens also went towards covering unexpected costs associated with operating COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Every year, students from a Maine island high school explore small slices of the world on their senior class trips. Past years have seen them visit the Eiffel Tower, Iceland's volcanos, Norway's fjords, the canals of Italy, and the tropical beaches of Panama. When it came time for Islesboro Central School's Class of 2021 to pick the destination for their senior class trip, the students — all 13 of them — began eyeing a trip to Greece or maybe even South Korea. However, in the end, they wound up going nowhere. Instead, they donated $5,000 they'd raised for the trip to help out their neighbors and loved ones who're struggling in the wake of the pandemic.



 

Speaking to AP, they explained that although it was painful to give up on a trip they'd been so looking forward to, it wasn't a difficult decision to make. "It felt sort of obvious that it needed to go back to the island community," said 17-year-old Olivia Britton. Before the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to their fundraising efforts, the teens raised nearly $8,000 by working concession stands, holding harvest and winter festivals, and hosting community suppers. In the end, much of the money raised was donated to the Island Community Fund to help community members suffering from pandemic-related job losses put food on the table or cover unexpected expenses.



 

The Class of 2021 was motivated to do so after personally experiencing some of the difficulties brought on by the virus outbreak. While most of the Islesboro Central School seniors live on the island — which has about 700 year-round residents — five of them take the ferry from the mainland to get to school. So when classes were shifted online, the teenagers split apart and unable to meet for months, with a three-mile gulf between the island and the mainland.



 

Long accustomed to doing things together — including coordinating Halloween costumes and going trick or treating together on the island — when the reality of the pandemic took hold, the seniors kicked off an email chain to discuss what could be done about their long-awaited trip. Since international travel was out of the question, they thought about scaling it back and maybe going on a regional trip. However, even that seemed like an impossible dream with the way things were. Moreover, with the COVID-19 death toll rising across the country and countless families suffering from the economic downfall caused by the pandemic, it seemed "weird and definitely wrong" to be spending money on an overseas trip.



 

"We could really see how the whole world and the island, too, was struggling. So it felt really good to do that with our money, to give it back to the people who gave it to us," said 18-year-old Liefe Temple, 18, of Lincolnville. The president of the Isleboro Community Fund revealed that board members cheered, high fived each other, and even shed some tears when they learned of the donation. "When everything settled down, there was a strong sense of pride in these students. That’s because their decision demonstrated an awareness of the hardship in their community and a willingness to do something about it," Fred Thomas said. "They learned that giving is hard, but giving is good."

Some of the money donated by the teens also went towards covering unexpected costs associated with operating COVID-19 vaccination clinics. The seniors are currently in the process of deciding where to donate the couple of thousand dollars that’s left. Britton’s mother, Dr. Megan Britton, a family doctor who advised the class on fundraising for the trip, revealed that the youngsters' generosity received a warm response from the island. "People complain about the youth today but this really flies in the face of that. Not these kids, at least," she said.

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