He sacrificed one of the most precious of grown-up commodities, a good night’s sleep, in the name of stamping out hunger in the community – “canning hunger in the community,” to be precise.
Kevin Tavares, associate principal for the Mattapoisett Public Schools, made good on his promise to spend an entire night on the roof of Center School if the students could surpass the number of canned goods Tavares had purchased for a food drive at the school. The students needed 481 to top Tavares’ 480, but before the June 17 deadline, they had collected over 800 canned and nonperishable goods.
So on June 18, before the last bell rang for the day, Tavares climbed out a window onto the roof of the school. He pitched his tent, and positioned himself, ready to wave goodbye to the students as they boarded their busses to leave on the last school night of the school year.
“I probably should have practiced making this tent,” Tavares said, fumbling with the poles, the tent flapping in the breeze.
Sure, a few colleagues heckled him for having what they considered “luxuries,” which meant a tent, air mattress, lantern, and, a chair.
“I don’t have an air mattress,” said Tavares, (wink wink).
And then the kids filed out of the building to board the busses that had just pulled up alongside the building. Tavares watched from above.
“Mr. T! Mr. T! Mr. T!” the children chanted from below. You could hear kids laughing and saying things like, “We love Mr. T!” and “Mr. T you’re crazy!” as Tavares looked down at them from the ledge, waving and smiling, and wondering how he was going to keep his second end of the bargain – to match what the students raised before the 8:30 am deadline the next morning when he was scheduled to descend from the rooftop.
The community, Tavares’ family, the Fire and Police Departments, and even a local television news film crew showed up all throughout the evening, until almost midnight, Tavares said during an 8:00 am call from his cellphone. Tavares said the police and fire brought about 340 canned goods with them.
“The community really stepped up to support this. Even former students,” said Tavares. “It was nice to see them, too.”
Tavares met his goal, and the final total of canned goods surpassed 1,000.
“It really was a special night,” said Tavares. “I’m just really looking forward to a shower.”
When asked how he would manage to top this challenge next year, Tavares said he wasn’t quite sure, but he will definitely have to raise the bar again for next year.
By Jean Perry