Richard Cooper: Community behind our students

Lum3n/via Pexels

Lum3n/via Pexels

Published: 04-03-2024 4:25 PM

I am writing to share an uplifting story of community generosity and support. In 2021, I introduced donation containers at the checkout registers of my two stores, Cooper’s Corner in Florence and State Street Fruit Store in Northampton, urging customers to contribute their spare change to Northampton Dollars for Scholars. What began as a simple initiative to gather coins for local student scholarships quickly evolved into something remarkable. To my surprise and delight, our customers didn’t just deposit pennies, nickels, and dimes; they also generously contributed paper currency, ranging from ones to twenties. Their collective generosity exceeded all expectations.

At last year’s annual awards ceremony, we proudly awarded a $1,000 scholarship, aptly named “The Customers of Cooper’s and State Street Award,” benefiting a deserving Northampton High School graduate. The same will occur at this year’s ceremony and next year we anticipate there will be 2 or 3 such awards! This outpouring of support from our community reflects its enduring generosity and forward-thinking ethos.

Last year alone, Northampton Dollars for Scholars awarded 171 scholarships totaling $134,250, ensuring that local students have the resources to pursue higher education. It’s worth noting that these scholarships are accessible to students from Northampton, Florence, or Leeds, regardless of their high school affiliation. As I transition into retirement, I am thrilled to see the tradition of community support continue under Mike Natale’s new ownership of Cooper’s and State Street. His commitment to upholding our legacy of aiding local organizations like Northampton Dollars for Scholars is truly commendable.

In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our loyal customers and the broader community for their unwavering support. Together, we are making a tangible difference in the lives of aspiring students and fostering a brighter future for our community.

Richard Cooper