By Amanda Mack, News Editor
As soon as this year’s new members were inducted, the Nantucket chapter of the National Honor Society began brainstorming ways to assist their community. What they came up with were three different initiatives for members to work on. The group split up into three subcommittees, each one taking on one of the initiatives. The first group, led by National Honor Society President JohnCarl McGrady, initiated a trash clean-up. The second group, led by Co-Vice President Waverley Brannigan, initiated a food and coat drive. The last group, led by Co-Vice President Reese Burns, initiated a vaccine awareness and Covid-19 relief around the island.
On January 31st, McGrady’s group met up socially distanced with masks and spread out around the Nonantum area to pick up trash. With gloves and trash bags, they got to work. After just an hour and a half, the turnout was very successful. “Ultimately we picked up nine bags of trash. That was a great result, but it’s also disgusting that people just leave that much trash on the side of the road. It is so easy to not pollute!” McGrady commented.
With the success of this first trash clean-up, the group would like to continue initiating these clean-ups around other areas of the island in the future. McGrady adds, “Going forward, we plan to do this semi-regularly. The series of winter storms has made it difficult recently, but as [we] move into the spring, I expect cleanups multiple times a month.” With warmer weather quickly approaching, it will be the perfect time to continue these efforts to keep our island clean.
The food and coat drive had a similar outcome to that of the beach clean-up. According to Brannigan, “It was an overwhelming success.” After advertising all over the school and the island community that the National Honor Society was accepting food and coat donations, the Nantucket community really stepped up. In the end, the group received approximately 20 bags of coat and 10 bags of food, proving once again the generosity within the island community. Brannigan adds that “We are so thankful for the efforts of the community and their generous donations.” All food donations were taken to the Nantucket food pantry, which will benefit those that are unable to afford groceries.
As for the coats, they “have been a little harder to find homes for, due to lack of storage space within businesses and a few Covid-19 concerns,” Brannigan says. Half of the coats went to the Nantucket Family Resources Center. As for the rest of the items, the group is working with A Safe Place Nantucket, which has sent the group coat requests from their clients with specific size/style requests. Assuming there will be more coats leftover from that, and no need for them left on the island, the group is also in contact with some off-island organizations. The success of this initiative comes from both the generosity of the community, but also the reasoning behind it.
“The original goal behind this project was to gather resources for our community. We felt that at such an unprecedented time, having access to needs such as coats and food is incredibly important, and we wanted to do our part and give back to our community. I think that our goal was met, considering how successful donations were! This process has not only provided resources for those in need, but the overall support serves as a reminder that our community is available and willing to support those around us,” Brannigan expressed.
The third group is using more of a long-term schedule for their project. In order to get the word out to the island community that they are available to assist with errands or grocery shopping for those in quarantine, the group created posters and hung them up around the island. A specific email has been made for anyone interested in reaching out to the group and is printed on the poster. On top of this, the group is also making Covid-19 vaccine awareness posters to put up around the island that state the benefits of the vaccine and debunks common myths about the vaccine. Burns announced that by doing this, “we hope to provide people with a little insight as to how getting the vaccine will benefit the community as a whole. We also included the locations of vaccine sites on posters so that people know their options and how to access them. Due to the fact that this is all coming from local students, we are hopeful it will have an impact on the community as a whole so we can all get our vaccinations and stop the spread!”
Through navigating the pitfalls of this pandemic, the students involved in the National Honor Society strive to continue helping others. With three committees, they can assist more people in need. Hopes are high for these individuals in their initiatives. This group will work to accomplish their goals despite the ongoing pandemic weighing on everyone’s shoulders.