Isabelle Benoit and Hope Davis knew they had to help.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating widespread and varied pressures throughout all levels of society, Benoit and Davis — high school sports rivals from Severn School and St. Mary’s, respectively, as well as SPark field hockey teammates — wanted to get to work and help those in need.
They started right here in the community. Leveraging the power of the Severn-St. Mary’s rivalry into spirited action, Benoit and Davis galvanized their respective school field hockey teammates and coaches to donate personal hygiene products, baby products, feminine hygiene products and assorted essentials to package together and distribute to needy women, mothers and families in the Annapolis area.
On May 9, Benoit, Davis and Severn student Polly Hill, all fully outfitted in protective masks and gloves, participated in a pop-up pantry at Tyler Heights Elementary through Downtown Hope church in Annapolis. Altogether the girls were able to serve over 350 needy families by distributing in excess of 5,000 diapers and baby wipes, 2,000 feminine hygiene products, and hundreds of personal hygiene kits containing toothpaste, soap, toilet paper, personal protective masks, and other toiletries and essentials.
Benoit said her relationship with Davis as friends, neighbors, club teammates and high school rivals was the genesis of their effort to help others.
“Although our rivalry is not a big deal to most people, it has been an ongoing part of our high school lives, as well as those who came before us at both Severn and St. Mary’s,” said Benoit. “[Hope and I] got to talking while hitting balls around together, and the drive came up in conversation. Once we started thinking, we decided, what better way to get a solid amount of donations than using our rivalry to urge people to give back to the community? Our schools have always had strong feelings towards each other, so we knew that mentioning the rivalry was going to benefit our efforts.”
They contacted their field hockey programs first, and everyone jumped in to help by bringing product donations and dropping them off to the Benoit household. Benoit noted Severn teammate Lexi Dougherty and St. Mary’s assistant coach Lauren Mroczka as huge contributors, saying everyone was happy to donate to the cause.
Benoit said seeing the line of cars and people queuing up at Tyler Heights Elementary to receive items made a powerful impression on her, and she spoke with perspective and humility about the opportunity to help the needy at critical times.
“We interacted with many different people (while wearing masks and gloves, of course) and got to see how desperate and in need these people are,” she said. “There is always something special and eye-opening about giving back in person rather than dropping something off at a location. After collecting hundreds of items and giving out every single one, Hope and I felt and knew that we did something that made a difference in someone’s life, which is one of the best feelings.”