This year’s Miss River Days candidates sure do have a heart for others and have so far shown great maturity and a deep kindness in all they have shared.
Miss Northwest Vivian Pennington is among that wonderful group of young ladies.
Pennington’s platform this year is “Equality for the Underprivileged,” an event held May 4. The idea was to provide comfort closets for all three of the Northwest schools. Pennington would love to be able to do this for more than just Northwest, but did believe she had a good start at her own school first. What a comfort closet consists of are things like hygiene products, clothing and things that can be used to make students feel that they look and feel like their peers. Vivian gathered donations to form Mohawk Comfort Closets within all three schools. Students will be able to discreetly receive clothes, shoes and hygiene products at any time. Pennington says the only difficulty she ran into in the making of the three closets was finding the space, but she was able to do so, and now all three schools are ready to go.
Pennington says for her event fundraising, she had tons of bake sales and restaurants for tips, and a lot of it was just contacting people with letters or word of mouth and getting a lot of donations. She says she had tons of unneeded clothes just laying around her house. “We had a dentist donate a bunch of hygiene products, and some churches.” The dentist was Portsmouth’s Brace Yourself Orthodontics’ Jay Parekh DDS, MS, who also happens to be Pennington’s dentist. “A lot of people really chipped in and helped. Before we did any fundraisers, we would start having them announce them in all three of the schools on the intercom. I go over to the elementary during the school day, to help kids who are struggling in reading. So I was in the elementary, and many of the teachers know me, so they might help me.” She says as long as she is around, she will keep the closets open and running, if allowed.
At the event, Pennington had a bouncy house, face painting, a prize wheel and a concession. There were a lot of people who brought in donations, so the other River Days girls were folding clothes the entire time. She notes that each of the River Days candidates had a box at their schools and helped collect items for her. She had additional help, she says, from people in her school and others who needed community service hours. Pennington says they collected more than 1,000 hygiene products and more than 1,000 items of clothing.
Pennington says becoming a River Days candidate “just kind of sprung up” on her. “We had two girls running, and a lot of my teachers were all about me doing it. They said that I could speak well, and were pushing me, and my government teacher said, ‘Just do it.’ So I signed up and I got it. I was glad I got it, and I’m really excited to represent my school and try to better my community. I saw a lot of kids in the reading lab who needed this type of help, and it makes a really big difference not feeling good and confident about yourself. I wanted to give the kids who need it a fair start at school. And I wanted to help with that as much as I could, and this was a perfect opportunity to do it.”
As for involvement in things for her school, Pennington says, “I’m not athletic, I’m more of the academic type of person, I worked quite a bit in the sciences,” and she was involved in FFA and is doing Greenhouse next year, “which is like an elective class. I have done publications and yearbook and the school website for awhile, and I mentor at the elementary.”
Pennington says her favorite part of River Days is really being in touch with the community. “You get so much more involved and make so many connections, and that’s my favorite part, going to things, meeting new people and that we’re making a difference.” Pennington has high aspirations for her future, with plans to take medical sciences and become a trauma surgeon. She says, “That is my goal. I want to join the military and be a field medic in the Army and come back and go to Xavier in Cincinnati.”
Pennington will represent Northwest High School in the Miss River Days pageant on Sept. 1. She will continue to collect items for her platform through the summer to carry out her compassion for others.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928