Mitchell Wollen is a competitive swimmer and a sophomore at Xavier High School in Middletown, Conn. When swimming stopped and school shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, he found he had a big block of free time.
A red stop sign sitting on the grass: Xavier High School sophomore Mitchell Wollen had some free time after school shut down and his swimming season ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he decided he would make some wooden signs to sell to thank health care workers, with the proceeds going to a fund for food for the workers.© Courtesy Mitchell Wollen/TNS/TNS Xavier High School sophomore Mitchell Wollen had some free time after school shut down and his swimming season ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, so he decided he would make some wooden signs to sell to thank health care workers, with the proceeds going to a fund for food for the workers.
“My friend and I were brainstorming,” said Wollen, 15, of Wallingford. “We thought we’d make these hearts for people on the front line who are sacrificing everything for us.”
Wollen made a prototype of one: a wooden heart painted red with the words “Thank You” painted on the sign. People could put them on their front lawns to thank health care workers. His mom Julie posted it on her Facebook page on April 5.
After that, Wollen didn’t have any more free time. He had 100 orders in the first week. He had to cut the signs with the jigsaw, sand them, paint them and deliver them.
When distance learning started up at Xavier, Wollen had school work to do for 6 or 7 hours a day.
“This week I’m off (school) for vacation,” Wollen said on April 16. “So I’ve had time to work on the signs. My school did an article on me and posted it on Facebook as well so it’s a little out of control.”
People can donate $10 for them, and so far he’s raised $1,600, which Wollen plans to use to buy meals for health care workers.
“There have been some super generous people who donated $100 for one sign,” he said.
He’s talked with people at MidState Medical Center in Meriden and Masonicare Health Center in Wallingford to bring the workers food but so far, only Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford has responded. His mother has a friend with a coffee truck, so the plan is for Wollen to pay the people who run the coffee truck to go to Gaylord this week and give the health care workers free coffee.
“Everybody’s having a tough time right now,” he said. “I just want to spread positivity and help those who are struggling in these times.”
Currently, Wollen isn’t taking any more orders for signs since he has about 100 orders to fill and he had to start back with his distance learning at school on April 20 but he hopes to be able to make more in the future.
Hey SLAYER! I’ve started a new series of posts called SLAY IT FORWARD. Each post is a submission from you of an act of kindness you have received or have witnessed that has inspired you. Let’s remind each other what’s important during this time and spread kindness… SLAY IT FORWARD.
To submit your own SLAY IT FORWARD story email me at firstname.lastname@example.org