SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The American Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts is holding their 19th annual Heroes Celebration on 22News at 11 a.m. Thursday morning, June 24th.

22News introduces you to a high school graduate from Springfield who saw an opportunity during the pandemic to make sure younger students didn’t get left behind.

Darien Edwards just graduated from the Hampden Charter School of Science in Chicopee. In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, he decided to volunteer his time at the MLK Community Center in Springfield to tutor kids of all ages in Math and English.

“When he saw that the Center was in need, there wasn’t any hesitation on his part to ask if they needed any help,” said Darien’s mother, Alicia Edwards.

“I’ve always been by my classmates. I’ve always been told that I was really good at teaching so one of the things that I was recommended was tutoring to see if I enjoyed working with kids and it just so happens that they were looking for support at the after school program for MLK.”

Darien Edwards

“To help young people that are younger than him do their math, do their English, do their sight words… he was on it, never being paid for his job. Always on time, never wanted to leave. When it’s winter time and it’s dark he said I’ll walk home, ‘you can’t walk home in the dark,’ but his dedication showed,” said Shantea Lopez, Director of Education at the MLK Center.

“They definitely felt like they were learning again. Like they were in school almost,” said Darien.

And what did he learn from them?

“Patience. Learning some kids definitely learn slower than others. So it does take time and patience like I said to make sure they’re understanding it,” said Darien.

Darien plans to continue his academic career at Curry College in the fall. He heads there as a Red Cross Hometown Hero, knowing he has made a big difference for kids back home.

“His humbleness is what probably made me cry when we found out he won because he didn’t understand why. I had to explain to him sometimes when you do selfless acts without wanting anything in return that’s what makes you the hero,” said Darien’s mother.