Drew Cassens and some other Downers Grove North High School seniors are saying goodbye to high school with a good deed.
And giving back to their community.
Cassens, a senior at Downers Grove North, and eight or nine friends spent part of last week collecting donations for the Downers Grove Area FISH Food Pantry and volunteering for a few hours at the pantry that's been in town for 50 years.
Cassens in recent years has helped out at the pantry once a year with the Downers Grove North football team. His mom, Wendy, made a passing comment to him that it would be nice to give back, for all the things people have done for the Class of 2020.
It's a nice way end what has been a far from ideal finish to the senior year for Cassens and others.
"I thought, even though we're going through such a tough time with the pandemic and everything, there are other people that need help more than us that are so fortunate," Drew Cassens said. "I know some teammates and classmates that aren't as well off, they have a sick parent or family member. There are people that benefit. It's a good cause."
Cassens got some friends together, and the effort gained momentum through Facebook and texting classmates. When they talked to the pantry, they were advised that nonperishable items were the top priorities. Cassens collected items and put them in the Home Depot boxes they used to pack up their graduation caps and gowns, and delivered them to the pantry earlier this week.
"We stayed for another two hours to help other people that were donating food to bring in," Cassens said. "The people that work there, they are so nice. I appreciate everything that they are doing to help others out."
Cassens, who also played quarterback for the Downers Grove North football team, has spent much of the last two months doing what most teenage boys doing – playing video games. He tries to work out once a day, and gets outside depending on the weather. He's participated in Zoom meetings with the Northern Illinois University football team, where he will be a preferred walk-on.
The plan is to report to camp in DeKalb June 14.
"That's the plan – fingers crossed," Cassens said.
Wendy Cassens said it's nice to see the seniors at the Downers Grove high schools finish their senior year on a positive note.
"The final thing you should do is be grateful and help other people," she said. "It's been nice. There's been some graduation fatigue, people losing their jobs. It's a good class. It's nice that they can band together for something outside of themselves."