Kids at the Miller's Run School in Sheffield know the old saying is true-- that many hands really do make light work. "I just really wanted to help and thought it was a good thing to do," said Devon Boardman, a fourth-grader.
The students moved a mountain of food from their school to the Sheffield Town Hall. They spent more than two weeks collecting it in honor of Pat O'Hagan, the Sheffield grandmother who was kidnapped and murdered in mid-September. Police have not named a suspect or a motive. "I think she was a very nice lady; very kind, very happy," said Lucas Currier, a seventh-grader.
O'Hagan gave generously of her time to the library, her church, the historical society and to the Sheffield Food Pantry. With the holidays coming, Miller's Run wanted to keep her memory and good deeds alive by helping the pantry and the more than 200 families it serves.
"I felt really good to know that everyone really cares about somebody," said Eric Riendeau, a seventh-grader.
The Pat O'Hagan Food Drive brought in hundreds of cans and boxes of food-- so many, the kids had to make a couple of trips to bring it all to the town hall.
Reporter Jack Thurston: You were friends with Pat O'Hagan for years. What do you think she would think of the children's effort today?
Bev Frost: Oh, she'd be so pleased. Pat is such a grandma-- she would've loved to see all these kids here!
"It's exciting to see she could inspire kids that small. When you hear their stories, they connect with her. That will be a role model for them for years to come-- they'll remember this," said Greg Bryant of the Sheffield Food Pantry. "It's exactly what she would have wanted to see."
Many of these kids never knew Pat O'Hagan but are glad to be following in her caring footsteps, learning their community is better off because she lived here.
"She did a lot for everybody," Currier said. "So I think it would be a nice thing to remember her for those things."
If Pat O'Hagan were here, she'd most likely be spending the weekend boxing up Thanksgiving food baskets for needy families. That work will continue without her, using some of the food the children donated.
The Vermont State Police are still actively pursuing leads and are offering cash rewards for information that helps the investigation. They'd especially like to hear from anyone who saw suspicious activity in Sheffield and Wheelock from mid-September to early-October. Call them with tips at the barracks in St. Johnsbury at 802-748-3111 or the State Police Crime Information Tip Line at 802-241-5355.