WAVERLY, N.Y. - Waverly, N.Y. wants to let everyone know that it cares - and it showed that concern in a big way Sunday.

With the message of "Many Hearts Beating as One," Waverly Cares Heart Day was held at the Elm Street Stadium in the Waverly Central School District as people in red shirts joined together on the field to form the shape of a large heart. Drum beats from the band mimicked a real heartbeat.

The Waverly Cares committee staged the event following a controversial incident in the school district in which a photo of students performing a skit at a pep rally sparked negative attention nationwide. It was performed at a high school pep rally.

The photo showed three white students wearing face makeup to appear African-American and re-enacting a 2009 incident in which performer Chris Brown was accused of beating his then-girlfriend Rihanna.

Those at the Sunday event, however, pointed out the many ways in which the Waverly community cares, such as efforts to help flood victims and many other charitable initiatives such as the "Rally for the Valley."

"This is Hometown America, right here," said Lisa Bailey, event coordinator. Her daughter, Anna, had seen coverage of the controversial incident on the Dr. Drew Show. As Bailey explained it, her daughter said, "Enough, they don't know who we are." In an emotional moment, she thanked her daughter for standing up for the community.

"What a great town to live in," she said. She noted the many assets of the community, such as the healthcare providers, merchants, and others.

At the event, a check for $1,000 was presented to A New Hope Center, an organization that works to educate people about abuse and assist people in abusive situations. Rose Garrity, executive director of the center, was on hand to accept the donation.

The center had been working with the school district before the incident, and she noted that the center took a lot of calls from the media wanting center officials to say something negative about the school.

"We said the school is doing what it should," she said, noting the school is full of "caring, wonderful people." The center will use the donation to further its work.

A large "Waverly Cares" banner had a message, "Thank you A New Hope Center" with students' signatures.

Dignitaries on hand included Waverly Cares Committee Member Tyler A. Schutt, Assemblyman Christopher S. Friend, Chemung County Legislator Brian Hyland, Tioga County Legislator Raymond P. Case, Tioga County District Attorney, Judge Elect, Gerald Keene, Waverly Village Mayor Kyle McDuffee, and Waverly Village Attorney Betty J. Keene.

"We have a wonderful area," Friend said. Case said, "we have a sense of community here."

McDuffee also noted that Waverly cares about its community, and cited many ways in which community members help one another, such as walks for charity. He thought the Villages was the best in the state, and said there was "no better school than our school district."

Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: reviewtroy@thedailyreview.com.