06/30/2014 09:31 EDT | Updated 08/30/2014 05:59 EDT

24 Grade 8 grads get $1M in scholarships from anonymous donor

An anonymous donor has given nearly $1 million to a Grade 8 graduating class in Leamington, Ont. — and the 24 students were told the same day the historic Heinz plant officially closed and put hundreds of people out of work.

Twenty-four graduating students at Queen of Peace elementary school have each received a $40,000 scholarship — $10,000 for each of four years for post-secondary education — good only if they choose to attend nearby Cardinal Carter Catholic high school in Leamington, southeast of Windsor.

The 24 students — including a set of triplets — were called to the office Friday and school officials told them that an anonymous donor had made the contribution.

The donor wants to remain anonymous but is a great believer in Catholic education and post-secondary education, a Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board spokesperson told CBC Windsor.

The shutdown of the 105-year-old H.J. Heinz Co. tomato processing plant put 740 employees out of work.