March 3-9, 2005
A Silver Lining in Every
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Sherrill — The sixth grade religious education students at St. Helena’s Church created and distributed over 1,000 silver ribbons to the community to support the employees who were laid off from Oneida Ltd. The area is reeling from the recent closing of the Oneida Ltd. factory. It was in operation for 150 years and provided employment to 500 people.
Student Tyler Mautner enjoyed making and distributing the ribbons because he knew that he was showing support to the people that were laid off. “My grandfather worked there 42 years, and my father 20 years,” said Tyler. “They are very happy that we did this for them.”
The idea for the silver ribbons developed when religious education teacher Roberta Femia and director of religious education Andrea Slaven had lunch recently. They presented the idea to the students, who wholeheartedly embraced it. “They were really excited about it,” said Slaven. “They thought it would be nice to do something to bring the community together.”
The students worked hard, constructing the ribbons during two class periods, after school and even worked on them at home. “It was fun,” said student Elaine Slaven. “I wanted to show support for the people who lost their jobs.”
The ribbons were placed in baskets and left at St. Helena’s Church so that parishioners could have access to them after the Masses. The students, along with Slaven and Femia, delivered the ribbons to local businesses, such as Sherrill New York Pizza, Ebeneezer’s Café & Creamery, Silver City Café, Yankee Ltd., Pepi’s Pizza and Cottontails. “We asked people to wear the ribbons as a symbol of prayer for the factory workers,” said Slaven. “The business owners were thrilled with the idea. They were very appreciative. It was our way of reaching out and touching the community.”
The response of the people in the community has been overwhelming. They have been wearing the ribbons on their coats. There has been an increased demand for more ribbons.
On Feb. 4, the students were anxious to distribute the ribbons, so they decided to take them to the Sherrill New York Pizzeria at lunchtime, realizing that they would encounter some workers from Oneida Ltd. They felt positive about giving the ribbons to the workers. Student Brandon Tourville said, “It was kind of sad, but people seemed happy and hopeful when we passed out the ribbons. I made the ribbons to honor the people at Oneida Ltd. and to remind them that there’s a silver lining in every cloud.”
Slaven is very pleased with the results of the project. “It was a beautiful gesture of thoughtfulness and prayer,” she said. “It inspired everyone to pray together. The children now understand that sometimes a simple gesture can mean so much. This shows the power that our community has when we pull together.”