One sophomore at George C. Marshall High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, has been spending the pandemic going all-in on efforts to help his community.
A key cause for Lucas Davila is the nonprofit his family started called Rustic Love Vienna, which helps area restaurants feed first responders and food-insecure families, and where he has been a leader and main contributor.
“We started it last summer when COVID initially hit and we wanted to help the community out,” Davila told WTOP’s Melissa Howell, but his mother had just been furloughed, so they needed to think of something other than giving money.
The “eureka” moment hit when Davila’s mom realized that the family had a lot of leftover wood in their basement because of a renovation. So she thought the family could make heart signs.
Davila and his family made about 12 signs at first, he said.
“My mom and I, we thought it wouldn’t really go that well, but it just rocketed, and everyone started wanting them,” Davila said. “And so we’ve been just making a lot of signs ever since we’ve raised a lot of money, I think $75,000 at this point.”
Davila said they recently helped out a local Dairy Queen that had lost customers.
And he loves seeing the hearts Rustic Love Vienna makes pop up in the area.
“It just makes you happy in the inside to see one of our signs,” Davila said. “I was driving with one of my friends, and I happened to see one of our signs, and it wasn’t even near our house. It was probably 20 minutes away. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s one of our signs.’ I’m like, ‘Wait, there’s another.’ So this is really fun to see and know it’s from us. We started it. It’s just really cool.”
That’s not all Davila does to help out. He also has a lawncare company that he started with his best friend and neighbor.
“We wanted a way to help the community out and also earn money at the same time,” Davila said.
They started off with a couple lawns to mow, some gardening, weeding for the older members of the community and free service for neighbors with a newborn baby.
“I always like to help out,” Davila said. “And I think that knowing that there are people that we can help and actually being able to help them, it’s just really nice and rewarding. And at the end, they’re always happy and we’re happy.”
He was recognized for his hard work and diligence in school with a Statesman Star award, where six students per grade per semester are nominated by teachers for honesty, respect and academics.
Davila has some advice for everyone out there: Don’t be lazy, stay busy, look for new adventures and believe you can succeed.
“While we’re still young, we should take this opportunity to do what you want to do. And don’t let others like bring you down or say you can’t do this. Because you can,” Davila said.
WTOP’s Melissa Howell contributed to this report.
This article is part of WTOP’s TOP Kids program, where kids in the D.C. area are recognized for the amazing things they do. The winners are awarded $500. The program is sponsored by Northwest Federal Credit Union. Nominate a TOP Kid you know here, and view other winners here.