'Overwhelming' response generates thousands for Trumbull High senior class

Kristen Kraus, center, along with other Trumbull High School parent volunteers delivers a cup filled with gift cards and treats to graduating senior Jason Knapp at his home in Trumbull on Saturday.

Kristen Kraus, center, along with other Trumbull High School parent volunteers delivers a cup filled with gift cards and treats to graduating senior Jason Knapp at his home in Trumbull on Saturday.

Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media

TRUMBULL — When a group of Trumbull High School parents got together last month to brainstorm ideas for celebrating the Class of 2021, they hoped to raise $11,000 by asking the community to “adopt” a senior. Within days, that goal was shattered, and the donations kept pouring in.

“The idea was to call it ‘Adopt-a-Senior’ and to have people contribute a suggested amount of $20.21,” said Kelly Targowski, one of the organizers. “We would then create a commemorative cup that we would fill with gifts and vouchers they could use around town.”

But the community’s response was stunning, she said. Individuals donated more than $16,000 and local businesses contributed more than $100,000 worth of their products and services.

“The response was overwhelming,” Targowski said. “We had originally thought that we would take the donated money and buy gift cards from local businesses to give to the seniors. But once the owners found out what we were doing, they began donating. This let us stretch our dollars and collect vouchers and gift cards that add up to $220 in free gifts for each of the 550 seniors.”

Donations include meals at Prime 111 and Parker Steaks & Scotch, gift cards from Verizon and Tomlinson’s restaurant, free bowling at Nutmeg Bowl and more.

The generosity even reached levels where businesses began asking the parent group how they could get involved.

David Rutigliano, a partner in the SBC restaurant group, saw a discussion on social media and immediately contacted Targowski.

“My son is part of this class, and I thought it was such a great idea,” he said. “These seniors have lost so much, the least we could do is give them dinner on us.”

Targowski agreed.

“This year’s seniors have not enjoyed a traditional senior year filled with events and activities that celebrate the end of high school,” she said. “Even with some opportunities to attend Trumbull High on in-person days, all of the typical events were canceled due to COVID risks.”

The parents on the committee also made a hefty donation, giving up part of their weekend to fill cups with gift cards and then deliver them to students.

“We were able to work from the bus routes, and we have about 30 parents driving multiple car parades along the routes and making deliveries, so it’s not too bad,” Targowski said.

Some of the routes even extend into adjoining towns.

“With our agricultural program we draw some kids from around the region, but even if you don’t live in Trumbull, if you’re part of the Trumbull High community, we have a gift for you,” she said.