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Together, a Valley Tech Team Helps Patients and Others

More than 1,000 books collected at local churches for patients and their families. Painted motivational rocks for those feeling depressed. Brochures designed and then distributed at doctors' offices in the region. Forty letters sent to state senators and representatives. A team of young ladies truly believe that "Together We Can."

In an effort to raise awareness of the types of cancer that can afflict anyone, to support cancer patients and their families, and to keep alive the memory of a beloved teacher, the SkillsUSA Community Service Team at Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School has been working tirelessly on its Cancer Awareness Network. In the process, Beth Belanger of Northbridge, Erica Poirier of Blackstone and Lacey O'Neil of Milford have not only involved the Valley Tech community, but the community at large.

"The churches were very helpful and so many people, especially here at school, have become part of what we are doing," said Beth. "We wanted to reach out to as many people as we could, and it's nice how many have responded."

Following the book drive at nine local churches, the team delivered nearly 450 gently used children's books to the Boston Children's Hospital. Advisor and Valley Tech teacher Rose Mary Quirk, as well as Valley Tech's Brooke Bibeault, reigning Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, assisted with the delivery to Boston. The Community Service Team is also assembling bags of books to bring to Dana Farber and other area hospitals.

"We wrote to senators and representatives asking if they would consider lighting the State House in Boston one night with pink lights to raise cancer awareness for everyone," Beth said.

Last spring, Valley Tech golf and basketball coach, and football announcer Ed Waters died of pancreatic cancer. In his memory, the team distributed small purple ribbon stickers for anyone at Valley Tech who wanted to place it on their school ID. The team is also conducting a raffle at the annual Valley Tech Fashion Show to raise additional funds for a memorial scholarship.

"The flyers we distributed explain the top seven symptoms for cancer and what to look for," Beth said. "A number of the other shops here at school have also been involved through an integration project such as Business Tech making bookmarks and Culinary Arts is going to have a week in the restaurant with pink napkins and centerpieces, even pink frosting on cookies. It's all about awareness."

Earlier this year the team displayed the pink motivational rocks in the shape of a huge ribbon on a tabletop in the school library. They are also producing electronic presentations to display on the school's network. "We're doing everything we can," Beth said. As their motto says – together.


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