BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Mountain Park Elementary School participated in its second annual Community Service Day on Friday, April 11. Students took part in 14 different hands-on volunteer activities to benefit a wide array of charitable organizations, the school, and the local community.
The day began with an assembly featuring several charity representatives, where the children could see how their projects directly benefit their community. Speakers included Michaela Murray-Nolan of Kids Corp, Carla Herbert of Nomid Alliance/RARE Disease and Laura Sodano of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Berkeley Heights Mayor Joseph Bruno kicked off the assembly by stressing the importance of giving back to the community and answered questions from curious students.
In the afternoon, the children worked with their classmates to pack over 200 sustainable lunches and toiletry bags for the area homeless; assemble birthday party bags and sustainable breakfasts and lunches for the Food Bank’s Backpack Kids Division; organize school supplies for children’s summer school programs for Kids Corp which focuses on academic and healthcare programs in Newark; assemble welcome bags with toiletries and treats, camp craft games and gene ribbons for the Nomid Alliance which focuses on kids undergoing treatments for rare diseases; make blankets for Project Linus which helps children who are ill and undergoing treatment; and create various cards for all organizations, such as birthday, encouragement, get well and thank you notes.
In addition, parents and children made table centerpieces and placemats for the Berkeley Heights Senior Center. Finally, the teacher’s lounge has been fully renovated, which started with stripping the wallpaper, spackling and painting. Students cleaned and reloaded the room with new furniture, a rug, appliances, canvases painted by the students and decorations. Students also helped beautify the school grounds with gardening work in the front and back of the school, as well as the courtyard area. Work included planting, weeding, and refreshing paint for playground games.
All supplies were made possible through generous donations by parents and local businesses, including Berkeley Hardware and Paint, BJ’s, Colonial Appliance, Dean’s Greens, Delicious Heights, Derco Office Supply, Dollar Tree, Goodman’s Restaurant, Hall’s Garden Center, Home Depot, L’Oreal, Dr. Fredrick Merkle DDS, McGrath’s Hardware, Pearly Whites Pediatric Dentistry & Family Orthodontics, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Taylor Rental, and Western World Insurance Group. In addition, substantial product and furniture donations came from Unilever and Novartis Consumer Health. Finally, John’s Painting, Jay Haddad, and Quality 21 Painting donated considerable time to renovating the teacher’s lounge.
“Giving back is an important life lesson for our kids and hopefully, we have inspired them to make a difference, even after Community Service Day,” said Peggy House, PTO Community Service Day team member. “Our committee is grateful for the extraordinary support we received from parents and businesses, and the enthusiasm shown by the Mountain Park kids. And with the weather cooperating, it couldn’t have been a nicer day.”