Some student athletes who were stripped of a spring sports season due to coronavirus are using the extra free time to catch up on their favorite Netflix series, dive into a good book, or try their hand in the kitchen.

Others are keeping busy by hitting the weights, playing online video games with their friends or enjoying daily nature walks.

Whatever the case may be and no matter how many things you fill your schedule with, adjusting to social distancing has proven to be both challenging and frustrating for everyone. For those who battle mental health issues, all that time spent indoors and in isolation only makes matters worse.

In recognition of May’s Mental Health Awareness month, Peabody’s Amber Kiricoples has made it her duty to help those who may be struggling more than ever right now. Is she watching TV and exercising like many other girls her age? Sure. But for the past month, spreading awareness for a cause that hits close to home has jumped to the forefront for Kiricoples — and so far, she’s far exceeded even her own expectations.

“Mental health is something very near and dear to my health, something that runs in my family, and it just came to a point where I felt I needed to act on it,” said Kiricoples, a three-sport standout at Peabody High who started a fundraising web page for Mental Health America. At first she hoped to raise a few hundred dollars, but the donations kept coming in and now she’s raised over $2,500 while upping her goal to $7,000.

“I just wanted to do something good with this time,” she added. “My favorite season was taken away when lacrosse was cancelled, but instead of feeling sorry for myself I just wanted to help.

“So many people go through it, I go through it, and then coronavirus comes along and makes everything worse. Some people might only be happy at school or playing sports because that’s the only way to escape their thoughts. So all those reasons just motivated me to try and make a little bit of a change in people’s lives.”

While Kiricoples has already done a tremendous job making an impact with the money she’s raised — all of which will be donated directly to Mental Health America — she plans to take things up a notch this coming week.

Beginning on Monday, June 1 and continuing on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20 percent of all profits made at Doey’s ice cream shop in Peabody will go towards Kiricoples’ fundraiser. The Salem News basketball all-star recently started working at Doey’s, and her employers knew right away that they wanted to get in on the action.

“My boss actually saw my fundraiser and said, ‘Hey, I have an idea; let’s have a three-day fundraiser here at the shop and 20 percent of the proceeds will go to your fundraiser,’” said Kiricoples. “They’ve all been so supportive and we’re just really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Just a junior, Kiricoples hopes to be back on the soccer pitch, basketball court and lacrosse field for her senior campaigns. Until then, she’s focused on the task at hand — one she hopes will make a difference for countless individuals struggling with mental health illnesses every day.

If you or anyone you know battles any sort of mental health issue, or if you’d simply like to contribute to a great cause, you can visit Kiricoples’ fundraising page at https://www.classy.org/fundraiser/2750570.

“You never know what somebody is going through behind closed doors, and I wanted to use my voice for those who can’t or won’t speak up,” she said.

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