Hundreds of volunteers from the Windham-Raymond area are expected to convene on the Windham High School campus this Saturday for a day of service, organized in memory of Shane Donnelly, a high school student who passed away unexpectedly a year ago during his sophomore year.
The community service day project, called “PowerServe,” was spearheaded by a group “who all knew Shane and all wanted to make a difference,” said Genevieve Delano, a sophomore at Windham High School and a student organizer.
The initiative started small, according to Delano, with a committee up of 40 students, faculty and administrators at Windham High School who wanted to do something to honor Shane’s life.
It grew to about 200 volunteers, most of them Windham High students and members of the community, who wanted to take part in the projects to refurbish the campus.
When Donnelly passed away, said sophomore and project-organizer Libby McBride, “we didn’t know how to deal with it.” A year later, she said, the community has found “a good way to come together in honor of him.”
The show of support “is a confidence booster” for the project, said Jake Noble, a senior and a representative from National Honors Society on the PowerServe committee.
One of the major projects planned for Saturday includes improving the cross-country trails behind the school, a place Donnelly enjoyed spending time, McBride said.
In addition, the organizers have planned numerous projects “for all different people, ages and skill sets,” Delano said. Participants will be assigned to painting, building, planting, mulching and cleaning, depending on preferences and skills, which individuals could list when they registered for PowerServe online.
There are also jobs dedicated for young children, said Delano, including painting birdhouses and cleaning under bleachers “where taller people can’t get to.”
People can show up to the service day without pre-registering, Delano said.
The service day is sponsored in part by YoungLife Sebago, a local chapter of the global Christian-based outreach group, of which Delano and McBride are active members.
Other sponsors include Gorham Savings Bank and Hannaford Brothers, according to Delano. The sponsors will help to provide materials and tools for completing the projects, T-shirts to the first 200 volunteers, bracelets to distinguish the different task-teams and food and water.
Procuring sponsors for the event has been challenging, said McBride, in part because the businesses “don’t always take us as seriously as they would an adult, because people don’t always take teenagers seriously.”
“Getting adults to really see that what we’re doing is significant and we’re making a difference has been a challenge,” she said. “But I think it’s been a very worth-while experience.”
McBride said she’s “excited for the event. We’ve been working for a while planning this, so to see this all happen is going to be amazing, and to do it all in memory of Shane.”
“There’s going to be a lot of spirit,” Noble said.
Jake Noble, left, Genevieve Delano and Libby McBride are among the student organizers of a service day on Saturday to beautify Windham High School grounds. The event is being held in memory of the late Shane Donnelly, a student at the school.