WALDWICK, NJ – This marks the seventh consecutive year that students at The Forum School have helped their neighbors in need by collecting and donating food items for the food pantry at Holy Trinity Church in West Orange. The food pantry is associated with the Community Food Bank of NJ, a nonprofit organization that helps thousands of needy families every year.

“I am filled with gratitude for all those who donated to support this effort,” Principal Brian Detlefsen said. “This food drive always helps our students develop a stronger sense of pride and connection to their community. It is one of many examples of how our students can give back and help those in need,” he added.

This year was the most successful drive ever: students collected more than $625 in cash donations, $160 in gift cards, and more than 1,400 food items.

Students who attend The Forum School have autism or related learning and behavioral challenges. Teens at the school may participate in the L.I.F.T. Program (Learning Independence For Tomorrow), where they learn life and work skills that prepare them for life after high school through hands-on, community-based learning, in addition to their rigorous academic curriculum. The L.I.F.T Program students’ annual food drive is an opportunity for them to help the community-at-large, while learning and integrating business practices and social skills. Under the supervision of their teacher, Joseph Dietzold, students have a role in promoting the drive; soliciting donations through direct community interaction; collecting and sorting donations; and distributing the food and money collected.