ALTHOUGH BOTH OF the Out-of-Door Academy campuses are closed and students are safely learning remotely, ODA’s dedication to service and the support of our community has not diminished. The appearance of COVID-19 in our region has brought forward many unique opportunities to step in to help better the lives of others being directly impacted during this challenging time.
In appreciation and support of the selfless medical professionals within the Sarasota community, Out-of-Door assembled care packages filled with snacks that were delivered to Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. A week later, students took on the task of creating artwork and thank you notes to the staff. From paintings and drawings of hearts and heroes to handwritten messages of gratitude, students poured creativity and love into these special works of art for those on the frontlines of keeping our community safe.
Sixth-grader Christopher Matras used his allowance to send breakfast to the respiratory specialists working at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center on behalf of the sixth grade class at ODA. The recipients were very thankful for this thoughtful gesture.
Lower school musicians used their artistic talents to provide an uplifting presentation for the residents of Bay Village. Fifth-grader Brody Rose took on the challenge of how to bring a virtual concert to the residents who usually see the students perform live for them. With the help of Music Instructor Dr. Linda Vasilaki, the industrious fifth-grader compiled videos that his fellow musicians recorded of themselves playing, weaving them into a full-length concert. The video was shared on Bay Village’s internal television channel for all of the residents to enjoy. In addition, Bay Village residents have been enjoying the letters and pictures mailed by our students while they are unable to have visitors.
Despite the challenging circumstances presented by COVID-19, sophomore Ryan Mantone has not given up on his commitment to being a good citizen. Ryan made cards and attached small pieces of candy to distribute to the staff at DeSoto Beach Club, a retirement facility where his grandmother lives. “We know this virus has been hard on not just the residents but also for the staff who are keeping our seniors safe,” says Ryan’s mom, Carolyn Mantone. “This gesture of good will made them all smile and feel loved during a difficult time.”
Junior Chelsea Ball and sophomore Sydney Graham, both members of ODA’s cross country and track and field teams, participated in the Positive Tracks Crush COVID Virtual 5K. Founded by the daughter of an Out-of-Door alumna, Positive Tracks is a national nonprofit organization that supports young people in creating athletic-inspired community fundraising events. The virtual event included logging 3.14 miles and submitting the info through an online form. The result? Positive Tracks donated $10 to COVID relief efforts for each entry!
Sophomore Zi Burns was inspired to make masks for the local community. “Zi had never sewed before in her life,” explains her mother, Cathy. “She pulled out her grandmother’s 1972 Singer sewing machine (which included the old manual) and taught herself how to thread the machine and sew the masks. The masks are being given to at-risk people in the Lakewood Ranch community, family members and the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.”
Eighth-graders Aubrey Robbins and Ryan Abernathy have both looked around their own neighborhoods to see how they can safely help those who are currently homebound. Aubrey has offered to do the grocery shopping for those unable to get out to the store, while Ryan has been assisting by completing yard work for his elderly neighbors who are unable to do so themselves.
After reading an email plea for clothing and shoes for the Downtown Ministries clothing drive, seniors Chelsea Lea and Sydney Sforzo dropped off a large donation of items they had collected through The Giving Closet, their nonprofit program. Although the students were unable to enter the building and meet with the organizers directly because of quarantine restrictions, they were able to drop off their donation knowing that their actions would bring comfort to those in need.
Kudos to the Out-of-Door Academy student body for continuing efforts to spread joy and kindness through acts of service in the community.