COVENTRY TWP. Elizabeth Thrall hopes to build a sense of community in Coventry following an accident last May that killed two Coventry Middle School students and injured a third.
The accident happened May 28, 2017, when a driver went over the fog lines on South Main Street and struck the students who were walking along the side of the road. The driver was texting and later was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of vehicular homicide, one counts of tampering with records, one count of vehicular assault, one count of driving while texting and one count of marked lane violation.
A benefit was held in honor of Taylor Galloway and Amber Thoma, both 14-years-old at Coventry Middle School. The benefit resulted in a lot of positive feedback and an outpouring of support.
Thrall said she wanted to do more and keep the community involved and engaged. This is when the non-profit Coventry Angels group formed.
"We wanted to do something for the one year anniversary," Thrall said. "Something to remember their lives and bring the community together."
She moved to Coventry three years ago and has two children, one who is a freshman, and a second grader. Her freshman was really good friends with Taylor and that is one of the reasons she got so involved.
"I have always been a helper," Thrall said. "It has always been important to give back and for my kids to see that."
She was happy to see after the horrific accident happened that the community put its school drama aside and all came together to help each other through a tragedy.
"There are such amazing kids that live out here," Thrall said.
She said a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes. The idea to have a parade came to mind and would allow the students in Coventry to also showcase their talent. In a meeting with township trustees, they supported the effort 100 percent. The parade will be in conjunction with Fallen Angels of Distracted Driving. Taylor’s family is expected to lead the parade.
In addition to organizing the parade, Coventry Angles is collecting donations of many items along with cash donations to help Coventry families and students. With cash donations the group hopes to be able to fund music lessons for example for a student who may not be able to afford it. The group has two treasurers that all the financial information is being run through.
"We want to do things to help the kids," Thrall said. "We want to fill any gaps we can and we just want these kids in Coventry to just experience being a kid."
Coventry Angels is collecting clothes, shoes, backpacks and school supplies just to name a few items. The group is accepting anything that is in good shape and can go to a family in need.
Thrall hopes to create a space where the students can come and pick out things they need and still make it like a back to school shopping experience. Cornerstone Church has offered to help any way it can and Weber Tax Services is giving the group office space to use.
In addition, the group hopes to help low income families and the elderly in the township. It hopes for local subcontractors to step up and help if someone needs a repair to their home. The group hopes to write grants to receive funding and materials.
Also, if a family knows another family that needs help, the group encourages that information be passed along.
Coventry Angels has a six person board: Keli Popiel, Laura Shumaker, Sarah Adams, Tina Barnett, Tonya Sewell and Wendy Weber. In addition to the board members, there is a plan to create a junior board, which would have four to five students on it. The junior board would also come up with and vote on ideas. One junior member would also have voting power on the adult board.
"The goal is to get as much of the community involved as possible," Thrall said.
She said the more the community is involved and working together it can create a safer community. The group plans to reach out to all businesses in Coventry for any help they can offer.
The best way to contact the group about being involved or donating items is through the Coventry Angels Facebook page.