DANVILLE — A couple of first-grade teachers who didn't like the idea of elementary school students sitting in the same desks all day decided to provide some comfort — with the community's help.

Teachers Gianna Evancho and Jessica Paugh enlisted the help of local businesses and community members to raise money to buy 1,200 stadium seat cushions for students at the Danville Primary School and Liberty Valley Intermediate School. Because of COVID-19 guidelines to reduce interaction, the students are not switching classrooms this year, just teachers are.

"A lot of teachers were concerned this year," Evancho said. "We couldn't imagine our elementary students sitting in a desk all day. The idea of a stadium cushion came to mind."

She and Paugh went to the district administration with their idea and sought ideas for sponsors.

They talked with Villager Realty in Danville, which agreed to pay for the cushions for the students at Liberty Valley, where third-, fourth- and fifth-graders attend school.

They also talked to Fairfield Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Danville, which donated, as did a couple of anonymous donors. 

Mick Brady, manager of Silverline Screenprinting in Danville, designed, ordered and printed the cushions and also donated. 

The cushions include pouches for students to store papers and pencil, Evancho said.

"Originally, it was Gianna's idea," Paugh said. "We work a lot together. I'm from Danville. I was able to help her in how to fund the project and get donations."

She said they started the fundraising over the summer.

"Once we fundraised, Mick set it as a priority," she said. "We met with him to get pricing, design."

Paugh said Brady delivered 600 cushions to each of the schools. Two or three community members gave private donations.

"Everybody was so giving in the community," she said. 

Brady said he got the cushions at cost then designed and printed them using the various company logos.

"I have everybody's logo," he said. "Half of them had the Ironmen logo."

He said Paugh had approached him about doing the cushions.

"I felt bad for those kids at school, especially last year," Brady said. "The kids' lives have been so disrupted by this COVID thing. The kids missed out on so much. We were glad to help."

Brady also gave a monetary donation.

"I gave what everybody else gave," he said.

He said two other donors wanted to remain anonymous.

Stephanie DiDomenico of Villager Realty said the agency donated $1,440 to purchase 600 cushions, enough for Liberty Valley.

"The teachers came in the beginning of August, when things got really started," DiDomenico said. "We thought the stadium cushions were a great, great idea. We wanted the community to know we are behind them. We feel strongly about contributing to the community." 

School Superintendent Ricki Boyle said another side effect of the new restrictions is carpeting had to be removed from classrooms to reduce the potential for spreading infection. Students sometimes sat on the floor in circles in the classroom, Boyle said.

"They did that on their own accord," Boyle said of Evancho's and Paugh's fundraising. "When we found out we couldn't have carpet in classroom, they were considerate of the children's needs."

The community is, too, the superintendent said. 

"The Danville community does a great deal to support the students in the district," she said.

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