SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – More than 80 people came out to help the police department perform some long-overdue grounds maintenance at the headquarters building on South Orange Avenue on Sunday.
The volunteers spent the afternoon planting flowers, cleaning up trash and deadfall, and washing the department’s fleet of police cruisers. Event organizers said that it was a great way for the people of South Orange to show their thanks for the police department.
“The police department does so much to serve the South Orange community, and this was our small way of showing them how much the community appreciates all they do for us,” said Sheena Collum, a member of the village’s Board of Trustees.
Among the group of volunteers were representatives from Seton Hall University’s student government and ROTC program, who said that they feel it is important for the Seton Hall and South Orange communities to mesh and support each other.
“We’re committed not only to the Seton Hall students, but also to the South Orange people,” said Joe Donato, president of Seton Hall’s Student Government Association. “This isn’t just where we go to school. It’s our home, too, and it’s important for us to show our thanks for the people who make this such a great place to live.”
Matt Chapman, the highest ranking cadet in the school’s ROTC program, mirrored Donato’s sentiment.
“You’re going to be seeing a lot more of us in the near future,” he said. “We have this great place to go to school and train, and we’re really trying to step up our volunteer efforts to show just how much we appreciate it.”
Police they said they appreciated the volunteer efforts because without them the work would not have been done.
“As anyone walking by the station can see, this is long overdue,” Chief Jim Chelel said. “But we simply don’t have the resources to do it. There’s a lot of things people can be doing on a Sunday afternoon, so we really appreciate them coming out to help us with this.”
After the work was done, the volunteers were treated to pizza provided by the Village Trattoria.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story reported a larger number of volunteers at the event.
The reporter is a student participating in hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.