| Danielle Eaton
EAST LONGMEADOW – Marco Basile began Rent A Tent 15-years ago, as a teenager with a business idea. This year, he had planned special events and celebrations in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of his landscaping company.
Basile said this year usually is busy for his tent rental business, with people often booking their rentals a year in advance for their graduation celebrations. However, with the restrictions on gatherings still in place, he said many of the calls he’s receiving now are to cancel their rentals.
“So every year, people call a year in advance, people who call ahead, there are some who call last minute,” he said. “But a lot of the calls I’ve been getting now are cancellations. It’s unfortunate that they have to do that.”
Basile said receiving a significant number of cancellations and his experience coaching high school wrestling inspired him to give back to some seniors who may be missing out on the experience of a graduation party. “I coach high school wrestling, I didn’t have any seniors this year, but I have in the past,” he said.
“I like to give back, I enjoy giving back. It’s not just about the money, it’s about helping people out, that’s why I enjoy doing what I’m doing,” he said. “It brings me joy to think I can make someone’s life easier.”
He said in addition to supporting this year’s graduating seniors, he wanted to give back to the communities that he’s “been doing business with the most over the years.” Basile said in light of “all the bad news” that people have been receiving lately, he’s hoping to bring some positive news by donating a graduation party rental kit to five deserving individuals.
Basile said the donation will include a 20x40 tent, 10 tables, 80 chairs and lights. He said he will be giving away a rental pack to one individual in each of the following towns: East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Wilbraham, Springfield and Agawam. Basile explained that “ideally, I would like this person to be someone who’s less fortunate or someone who may have struggled through high school.”
“I wasn’t an A+ student. School wasn’t really my thing, I kind of feel for those people who school doesn’t come easily for them, but they want to set themselves up for success and worked hard to pass,” he explained. “Graduation is kind of a big thing because seeing that hard work paid off, getting that diploma. I feel for the class that isn't’ going to have that.”
“Maybe it's a kid that is the first person in their family to graduate high school, maybe someone that the odds were against them, but they worked their butt off to be able to pass. Someone who is less fortunate and wouldn't be able to afford an event like this,” he said. “Someone who makes a difference in their class and is an inspiration to the rest of their class. Someone that school just isn't their thing but somehow passed and is maybe going to enlist to service our country. Someone that is just a kid but is making an impact on their community.”
Basile explained that while he didn’t “want to exclude towns” he’s also done business with, he “can’t give away 100 free parties” and “figured five was a good number to do.”
Those who wish to enter to receive the donation, or nominate someone they know to receive the party kit should “write up a little essay” and send it to Basile at email@example.com. Nominations are due at the end of May, and winners will be drawn on June 1.
The reason behind the essay, Basile said, is to share the good the students are doing with others. “The idea is with the kids, whoever writes the essay with their blessing, if I can post three essays then people would have good stuff to read,” he said.
Basile said he is willing to honor the donation next year as well, should the conditions continue to not allow for graduation parties this year. He emphasized that he is also looking to grow his team, and anyone interested should email him as well.