P.S. I Love You Day Promotes Warmth, Awareness At Ring Elementary

Carrie Davenport and Brandi Meacham, C.C. Ring Elementary School teachers, helped students and staff spread love throughout P.S. I Love You Day on Friday. The pair handed out candy with uplifting messages, information from the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention and attempted to brighten the lives of many. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Spreading love and kindness can look like a smile, a handshake or even giving a piece of candy to someone down in the dumps.

C. C. Ring Elementary School students and teachers did just that on Friday in celebration of P.S. I Love You Day. Ring School teachers Carrie Davenport and Brandi Meacham led the event and joined forces with the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention for the day.

Candies were handed out with notes attached, as well as information from the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Davenport said this is the fourth year the school has participated in the P.S. I Love You event, and it has been a great success. The event centers around standing up against bullying, ending depression and preventing suicide. P.S. I Love You Day has recently become a non-profit organization, and was formed by Brooke DiPalma in 2010 after she suffered the loss of her father to suicide.

The teachers started out small with the event and have added more to it as time went on, Davenport said.

“We expanded this year to include information from the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention,” he said. “And while parents are picking up, we spread kindness. We gave the kids ribbons and encouraged them to wear purple, (the color for the day).”

All students signed an anti-bullying pledge, Davenport added. Classrooms also participated by doing kindness activities, and the school also hosted visitors from the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention.

Meacham said the first year was more of a random act of kindness, but it has grown over the years. She said more and more has been added on to the event, and teachers have embraced the idea.

“This has definitely been our biggest year, and it’s been really fun,” Meacham said. “Partnering gave us more funds and materials. It’s not just about saying, ‘I love you’ for the day.”

Davenport said money was raised by selling “P.S. I Love You” T-shirts. Some of the funds will be donated to the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention, she added.

She said the event is important because it is an action that can be taken which will allow an impact to be made on the community, even in a small sense.

“The school is kind of like the center of our little community,” she said. “You can start small with something as simple as giving out a lollipop. You never know when you can change someone’s day.”

Meacham said it is important to get help when it is necessary. For those struggling with depression, suicide or other issues, keeping it quiet isn’t the answer.

“Depression shouldn’t be a silent thing,” she said. “We don’t want to be silent about it, and we are going to spread it as far as we can every year.”

Victoria Patti, Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention coordinator, said the partnering up for the event was a great success. The idea began with a member’s suggestion, Patti said.

“Sylvia Emerling, a member of The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention … saw the natural fit between C.C. Ring School’s P.S. I Love You Day initiative and the Alliance’s mission,” she said. “The school has really done all of the planning for this day, as in year’s past and from what I understand it makes a huge impact for the children and their caregivers. As a new partner with the school this year, the Alliance has learned more about P.S. I Love You Day and how it helps little ones understand the importance of bullying prevention, social emotional wellness and ultimately the prevention of suicide.”

Patti said the leaders of the initiative did a great job in getting others to support the cause and raise awareness throughout the day. She said it was a great partnership between the two entities.

“The Alliance was able to bring some informational cards into the school for parents and staff to help recognize signs of depression and suicide with resources of whom to reach out to for support during a crisis or non crisis situation, as well,” Patti said. “We are very thankful to be included with these efforts and hope other schools follow the lead that Ring School has shown today because it helps us reach more community members and children who might be struggling and not know where to turn. We are all in this together.”

Patti mentioned anyone struggling with mental health crisis should call the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline Number at 1-800-724-0461.