Members of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills (JLOSH) held a day of mass volunteering last weekend (March 2) to celebrate the group's 100 years of community service.

One hundred volunteers joined forces with 13 community groups which have historical ties to JLOSH to complete projects ranging from packing food bags for hungry children and stocking book pantries and school supply closets to renovating rooms at group foster homes and a family refuge.

JLOSH volunteers assembled food bags with the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, which serves over 4,000 'food insecure' children from 47 different schools every weekend.  Members also completed other programs in East Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, South Orange and West Orange.

In Maplewood and South Orange, members sorted through donated books for book pantries and a summer reading camp, working with Karen Weiland, Director of the Parenting Center in the SOMA school district.  She has taken on the challenge of providing each school with a “take home and keep” book pantry for those children who do not have books to call their own.

JLOSH also stocked a new wardrobe with gently used clothing at Reunity House, run by FAMILYConnections in South Orange. There, families separated due to abuse and neglect have a safe environment in which they can work towards being reconnected.  In addition to providing therapeutic care, FAMILYConnections will often provide clothing to the children of these families.

In Orange, children’s nutrition and wellness were the priority.  Volunteers assembled and delivered 300 “on the go” breakfast bags for students at Orange High School who would otherwise start the day without proper nutrition.  Meanwhile, at Oakwood Elementary School JLOSH members created a nurse’s pantry filled with essentials to support wellness and hygiene.

In East Orange, volunteers transformed three austere family treatment rooms at the Family Intervention Services building into welcoming spaces, complete with storage, artwork and games. They also gave a makeover to the hallways and bathroom at Isaiah House, which was founded by JLOSH in 1988 and remains the only shelter in East Orange that provides temporary lodging, food, social and financial services, as well as comfort and hope for over 100 families a year.

Volunteers also supplied books and reorganized the library area at Community Day Nursery, a nonprofit early childhood program offering high quality full day preschool education.

In West Orange, volunteers focused on helping families in crisis and feeding the hungry. They helped organize the children’s library and the school supply storage closet at Valley Settlement House, a nonprofit social service agency that helps families to find and develop their potential for a positive life in the home, neighborhood and community.

In addition, they gave a mini makeover to the bedrooms of boys in the group home run by Children’s Aid and Family Services in West Orange, which provides family support services ranging from adoption and therapeutic foster care to eldercare and drug and alcohol abuse services.

Working with St. Andrew and Holy Communion Church, JLOSH members delivered donated food items, served lunch and organized the in-house food pantry for Christine’s Soup Kitchen at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.  Each Saturday, Christine’s Soup Kitchen provides a warm, home-cooked meal to the homeless in the West Orange area.

In Millburn and Short Hills, members sorted eyeglasses for New Eyes for the Needy at its premises on Millburn Avenue, and gave a pre-spring clean-up to the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum on Forest Drive.  In addition, they encouraged children to join the volunteer effort by transplanting tree seedlings.  JLOSH helped establish New Eyes for the Needy in the 1930’sand began the first educational programs at the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum in 1961.

JLOSH President Kate Lee commented: "For the past century, the women of JLOSH have been building better communities.  What better way to pay homage to that legacy than by revisiting some of those programs which have made our communities stronger and better?

"The day, which we called our March Volunteer Madness, featured immediate-impact projects to more complex projects that will literally change the way people live.  We want to thank all the organizations who made this day possible by opening their doors to us once again."

The Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, Inc. is an organization of women developed as civic and community leaders creating lasting community impact.  JLOSH provides service to East Orange, Livingston, Maplewood, Millburn, Orange, Short Hills, South Orange, Springfield and West Orange.  It reaches out to women of all races, religions and national origins.  Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.  To learn more about JLOSH, visit www.jlosh.org or find it on Facebook.