BURRILLVILLE – A small town’s business community has turned some young students’ loss into a positive show of support, replacing money stolen at a middle school dance with more than five times what was originally taken.
Burrillville Middle School held a Spring Fling for 7th and 8th grade students on Friday, March 29, an event that members of the Student Council spent months planning.
All was running smoothly until around 9 p.m., when the students noticed that some $200 had been taken from the money box holding profits from concessions. School administrators were notified, and music at the dance was stopped for around 20 minutes in attempt to get the culprit to come forward.
But no one confessed to the crime.
BMS Principal Kathryn Lord sent an email out to parents noting that the school would respect confidentiality if students came forward with information.
“If your child happens to hear or knows who may have taken the money, we ask that they please inform us,” wrote Lord.
A parent posted about the incident on Facebook, leading Angela Vietro, owner of The Taco Shop to donate $200 back to the students.
“It seemed like a sad turn of events for the kids at BMS, but I’m a believer in paying it forward when you can, and specifically, I try to support the community of Burrillville,” Vietro said when asked why she decided to donate. “I feel very fortunate to have grown up in this town and returned here to raise a family. I also have a business here, and I feel the support of our great community everyday.”
What Vietro didn’t know was that the act would inspire a flood of donations to the students. Local parents and business quickly lined up, asking the parents where they could donate.
The parents set up a Go Fund Me page, posting photos of the students.
“These kids have worked so hard to raise this money for many great things to benefit the school such as a color run, motivational speaker and field day activities,” wrote the parents. “We are heart broken for these kids and want to help them to know that we as a community stick together and that not only does kindness prevail always but that no matter what life throws at you there’s always a way to fix things.”
The Burrillville Patriots soon followed suit with a $100 donation, as did Leigh Marie Photography, followed by K.anderton Photography. Stillwater Construction donated $200 and Larry Torti Septic Cleaning pitched in another $100.
Families, clubs and private residents all pitched in and by the time the two-day fundraiser was through, the kids had $1,125.
“It only felt right to put the kids who worked so hard back into the green,” said Vietro. “I had no idea it would start a chain reaction of local businesses and organizations donating hundreds of dollars to the BMS Student Council.”
Vietro said she wasn’t surprised by the show of support for the students.
“This is what we do here,” said Vietro. “The people of this community rally together in times of need, big or small, and it makes me proud to say I’m part of that.”
That community has also recognized Vietro’s generosity.
“We have heard quite a bit of positive feedback at The Taco Shop,” she said. “We have such awesomely generous and kind customers, so thats not really a surprise.”