The Bridgewater-Raritan Education Association is sponsoring a New Jersey school district, sending needed items to a community that was displaced by Superstorm Sandy.
According to Tara Hueston, fifth grade teacher at Hillside Intermediate School, the association chose to sponsor Lavallette after some members said the school district there was displaced for the remainder of the year.
“They had lost everything,” she said. “I found Lavallette, which they’re now learning at St. Barbara’s Greek Orthodox Church in Toms River, on Facebook, reached out to them, told them we wanted to help, set up a donation collection time period and sent out a couple of e-blasts and a district email.”
“The rest is history,” she added.
Hueston said they just finished a book and gift card drive for the district, collecting and delivering more than 7,000 books and $1,600 in gift cards and monetary donations.
“It is very exciting,” she said. “Going forward, we at least have plans to partner up with Stuff the Bus throughout the month of January, as well as partnering with the Somerset Patriots Baseball Organization.”
“Those details are still being worked out,” she added.
But that is not all being done throughout the district to help those in need during this holiday season.
At this point, Hueston said, the district has donated items to Bridgewater-Raritan residents, Staten Island School, Atlantic Highlands, Seaside, Seaside Heights, LBI, Union Beach, Brick and Toms River, as well as the Somerset County Food Bank, Somerset County Animal Shelter, Raine Foundation in Hazlet and YMCA in Somerville.
Hueston said among the items donated have been $525 in gift cards for Stuff the Bus; 231 health and hygiene items; at least 400 baby items including diapers and powder; approximately 600 food items; cleaning supplies; 500 Toys for Tots at the Raine Foundation; and school supplies for Staten Island, Seaside, Lavallette and LBI.
“Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School specifically collected $525 for Toms River residents,” she said.
And at Hamilton Primary School, students and staff have participated in the “All for Books Coin-A-Day Challenge,” to raise money for books to benefit both the school and the larger community.
The collection was held from Dec. 3 through Dec. 7, and teachers received a collection box for the classroom, with children depositing coins in the morning, and the class getting the most having the opportunity to spend extra time at the school’s book fair.
All funds collected through the program were used to buy more books, giving students a chance to participate in the book fair, add books to the school library, help teachers add more books to their classrooms, and donate to another school or community organization needing books.
The school was working toward its goal of $1,000 in collection, and Scholastic was planning to match the monetary donation with donations to national non-profit organizations, Kids in Distressed Situations Inc. and Kids in Need Foundation.
“I can say that the donations were from BRRSD staff members and voluntarily contributed by families in our community,” Hueston said. “The generosity is wonderful.”