DELHI - COVID-19 has brought about chaos and uncertainty, but, DeLancey native Austin VanDermark, 12, is determined to shed his own light on the pandemic.
VanDermark, a Delaware Academy student, is currently finishing the remainder of his seventh-grade career via distance learning. Spending the majority of his time now between home and Cugino’s, a Delhi pizzeria owned by his parents, Melissa and Brian, VanDermark has realized the importance of social distancing and giving back to those on the front line.
Originally inspired by the example of his parents, events on the news and the donations of others featured on TikTok - a video sharing application, VanDermark was hopeful that his own contributions of kindness might ease the burden of some in the area who feel the effects of COVID-19 the most.
Understanding their son’s desire to help, Melissa and Brian suggested a pizza donation to employees at O’Connor Hospital in Delhi. After calling to confirm appropriate means to donate, on March 29 Vandermark made his first, two-pie donation. Then, VanDermark donated another two pizzas on May 6, National Nurses Day, and he doesn’t plan to stop there. VanDermark aims to not only donate additional pizzas to the hospital and local fire departments, but he is also eager to volunteer at area humane societies when orders on social distancing are less restrictive. VanDermark, a Blue Angel (aerobatic pilots of the U.S. Navy) hopeful, insisted on contributing his own funds towards the donation, but would further like to thank his Uncle Jeremy for making the pizzas.
“Our hearts melted - we couldn’t be more proud of him,” Melissa remarked. “Austin is a straight-A student. He is brilliant, kind and funny. He is a really great kid.”
Like most kids his age, VanDermark misses his friends and isn’t too keen on distance learning, but has managed to occupy himself with homework, helping out around Cugino’s and trout fishing in the Delaware River. VanDermark is hopeful that, by the example he sets, others will be inspired to give back as well. “It’s a nice thing to do and what we should all do,” VanDermark explained. “My parents have taught me the importance of giving back and helping others whenever we can and I hope my story inspires others to do the same.”