Day of Giving Celebrates Sacrifice and Love

As the song says, “no wind, no rain, or winter’s cold can stop me, baby” and nowhere was this feeling more alive than in the halls of the Londonderry High School gym during the annual Day of Giving Assembly. After being postponed due to inclement weather, the Pantene Beautiful Lengths Hair Drive finally got underway last Friday with 177 donors and 10 stylists lined up to cut their hair for a good cause.

“It’s always a great accomplishment to get so many people,” said Steve Juster.

Juster started the event as a way to get the positive energy from the school’s pep rallies out into the community. Since then, the community has come back year after year to support and donate to the hair drive. All the hair donated is turned into wigs for cancer patients and given out by the American Cancer Society. Linda DiNoto and her team came to the assembly this year and one of them, Jillian Dubois donated herself.

In the past, Juster and his team have invited other special guests to join, but this year decided to focus more on the local community. Members of the school district and town government were invited to attend. Some of the few non-Londonderry residents invited were Emma Dann, the director of nursing at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, who donated some of her hair.

“Every year we put a different spin on the event,” said Juster. “It’s all about the angels and their day.”

Everyone who donates is referred to as an “angel.” They are giving a part of themselves to improve the life of someone else. Rebecca Tenney had planned to donate her hair in her junior year, but passed away from meningitis in 2010. Her parents, Mark and Tammy Tenney have attended every year since and there had been someone to donate in her honor until recently. In her memory as an angel of the assembly and an angel in heaven, a chair was placed by the juniors with an “I pledged” shirt from her year, a blue angel shirt and a white rose this year.

Juster announced to the crowd that “we will do that every year not to mourn, but to celebrate our only eternal student angel.”

Every student has a story, and those who do not get to have theirs told at the assembly can find it on Juster’s bulletin board at the high school.

“It’s not about the recognition,” he said. “They’re answering a high calling, doing what they’re doing… their selflessness is so honorable.”

Some of the students were awarded the Arthur Psaledas Special Recognition Award during the assembly. It’s given to those who go “above and beyond as a Lancer,” said Juster. They represent “the best a Lancer could be.” Kaitlin Quirk, Maya Hilliard and Latin teacher Flora Sapsin were given the award this year.

“All of you in this room are stars, even you adults over there,” Juster told the crowd. “You’ll meet many stars today in the constellation Lancer Nation.”

Playing to the theme of community, Juster told a story about the high school staff gathering donations for Brenna Gustitus after her family lost their home, and almost their puppy, to a recent fire. The Gustitus’ received clothing, other necessities and $600, as well as a new crate for little puppy Gus.

Brook Soucy also received some gifts, as Pantene heard about her own house fire, which resulted in a total loss. She was even given an autographed photo of Red Sox pitcher David Price to put in her new room, courtesy of the team. The Manchester Monarchs even donated tickets to help lift her and her families’ spirits.

Everyone came together to show support and donate hair and time helping cancer patients.

With the Lancer community watching, Juster brought the whole event to a climax with four small words that would lead to big changes in the lives of not only cancer patients, but the lives of the angels and their families.

“Three, two, one, cut!” he announced as the scissors snipped away until next year.

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