MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - All generations were shocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but while adult brains were processing, the children were wondering what their future looked like. Caoimhe Gorham, an 11-year-old girl, wonders if we will be wearing masks by next Christmas. Allison Spivak, a five-year-old girl, wonders when she will be able to return to an amusement park, and ride the rollercoasters she loves most. Jimmy Ruban, a junior at Governor Livingston High School, wonders what his college experience will entail. 

These three young minds have questions that cannot be answered; so instead, they channel their energy towards giving back to healthcare heroes and supporting their town, Mountainside, New Jersey. 

Caoimhe Gorham started taking sewing classes [at Urban Society] in December 2019, and got her own sewing machine for Christmas. Gorham said, “I started sewing at home and I did more projects during quarantine. Then around the summertime, I started making masks.” 

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Her idea came from the struggle to find the perfect fit in a mask. With a petite face, Gorham decided she would need to find a mask that fit if this was to be the new normal. With encouragement from her sixth grade teacher, she launched her small business to help others find the “perfect fit” mask. 

With the resources easy in reach, and an increasing demand for Gorham's high-quality masks, she has sold more than 200 masks since the summer. The masks were dispersed and sold to teachers at her school, and through friends, family, and local businesses, including a pizzeria, a hospital, and various stores in her local community. 

During the holiday season, Gorham changed her fabric to festive prints, and in the spirit of giving, she donated all of the proceeds from the holiday masks to Mountainside Cares. Gorham saw the need for her skills and wanted to help not only the people and businesses around her but contribute to the overlying goal of getting the community back on its feet. 

Kindergartener Allison Spivak had the same idea in mind when she decided on a goal to sell 2021 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies by the end of the year. She is going to give all boxes of cookies sold to the healthcare workers.

In a video posted on Facebook by her parents, Spivak declared, “I am a New Jersey Girl Scout and my mommy and grandma are healthcare professionals, and I am delivering the cookies to the healthcare workers.”

Since then, 139 boxes have been sold! Once the shipment is delivered, Spivak and her Daisy troop will distribute the boxes to the Mountainside EMS, St Barnabas Hospital, Morristown Medical Center and many more. 

Jimmy Ruban, a member of the “Top of the Hill” neighborhood, was a part of a holiday luminary fundraiser which worked to buy a pizza dinner for the overnight shifts on five floors at Overlook Medical Center. 

The fundraiser brought life and light to the streets of Mountainside as Ruban and his friends and family made over 850 illuminaries. Sold for $1 each, Ruban and others from the neighborhood bought sand, candles, and bags to create the luminaries. They even made flyers to get the word around. The luminaries were then lined up in front of the houses as shown in the photos above. 

In total, the “Top of the Hill” neighborhood raised more than $562. The money was given to Mountainside Cares which then supported Doria’s Pizza, a local business in Summit. The fundraiser was a chain reaction of positivity, supporting people’s smiles and faith, as well as local heroes. 

Ruban said, “The people you are giving to definitely appreciate it, and you are helping them, as well as giving them one less thing to worry about.” 

Starting volunteering habits at an early age will encourage a lifetime of good deeds. Their minds are being formed through a crisis, and their actions prove they are determined to spread hope in a less than hopeful time. 

When young people are stepping up to the occasion and working hard to ensure a safe future for themselves and others, it's clear the rising generation will be stronger, more resourceful, and truly revolutionary. 

Editor's Note: Holliday Woodard is a junior at Gov. Livingston High School participating in the TAPinto internship program. For more information contact bpeer@tapinto.net.