Pinellas County Schools gives back to working students during pandemic

Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 11:00:23-04

SEMINOLE, Fla. -- A Seminole High School history teacher wanted to give back to her students who are still working during the coronavirus health crisis. Deanna Russo soon came up with a plan to feed the kids on the front lines.

Many of Russo’s students work “essential jobs,” as grocery store baggers, cashiers and food delivery workers.

“They were like yeah we’re working more than ever,” said Russo. “We have more hours than we ever have, we’re working in the middle of the night stocking shelves, and I was like oh my gosh. So they just have been on my mind.”

To recognize her students, Russo came up with a program to thank the “Warhawk Student Super Heroes.”

To get the idea off the ground, Russo enlisted the help of her husband, Joe. Joe’s company, Pinnacle Transport, donated $500 to cover the cost of the meals at Joto’s Pizza in Seminole.

Joto’s pitched in money, too. The funds were enough to cover 25 students.

“This is a moment in history that the kids are going to look back on and say, oh my gosh, we were working during a pandemic,” said Joe Russo.

All students needed to do was send in a picture of them at work or in their uniform. Pictures of students at Chick-fil-a, Winn Dixie, Panera Bread and other businesses flooded in.

Seminole High Junior Taylor Murphy works at Publix. Murphy says she appreciates being thought of during a pandemic.

“No matter what, there has to be someone working and doing something,” said Murphy. “Honestly, there’s not much else to do right now, so I might as well go out and work and help some people.”

Russo says she’s heard from parents and other teachers who’d like to help the program continue. The Russo family hopes other local businesses jump in to support students, too.

“The community notices what they’re doing,” said Russo. “We know that they’re helping us keep going, they’re helping us have supplies when we need them on the shelves, they’re delivering food. They’re on the front lines.”