LIVINGSTON, NJ - Livingston is known for producing successful people--just look at the impressive roster of those admitted to this year's LHS Hall of Fame program, during Homecoming. But, Livingston is also home to very generous people too--even very young ones.
This week, TAP into Livingston shared a story on Melanie Yaari, who donated food to C.H.O.W. In honor of her eighth birthday, with the hope that her brother, friends and the public will follow suit. But, she is not the only generous elementary school student in town. Jayden Declet, a nine-year-old fourth grader at Riker Hill, has been feeding the homeless for quite a while.
One day when Jayden, an actress, went into New York with her mom Liz for an audition, she saw a homeless man. She asked her mom about him and Liz explained that there are some people who have lost their homes and don't have clothes, belongings and food.
This got Jayden thinking and the image of that man remained in her mind.
"Seeing him made me very sad," said Jayden.
This past summer, when her mom asked her what she wanted to do for the day--thinking Jayden would ask for plans with friends or perhaps to go to the beach, Jayden surprised her by saying she wanted to go to New York to feed the homeless.
Liz said that the first time they did it, they made up 25 care packages, called "Jayden's Care Packages," containing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, juice boxes, a snack, gum and hand wipes, which they then gave out in the city.
"A man asked Jayden for two sandwiches and said, 'Thank you, you saved my life," to Jayden and she looked at me, smiled and said "wow, we are really helping people,'" said Liz.
Jayden also saw some homeless children around her own age said and that really impacted her.
"She is such an amazing and caring child--I am always learning from her," added a choked-up Liz.
Once, while browsing Facebook Liz saw a segment on Ellen of homelessbus.org who have been feeding the homeless every Saturday night since 1992. Liz and Jayden contacted Anna from the homelessbus.org and it turned out that the woman running the organization lived near them in New Jersey. They bonded and soon began going over to the non-profit organization to make care packages and do evening distributions to the needy in NY.
"We have become great friends with the people involved and it is so nice to share this project with others who share this passion for helping the homeless," said Liz.
Liz said that Jayden now goes into NYC at least once a month and that sometimes they make the care packages with friends from church.
Right now, since it is getting cold, Jayden is collecting socks and toiletries from her home and for the month of November Jayden is collecting at her school for the homeless. Anyone interested in making a donation can leave the items on the Declet's porch, which is located at 4 Country Club Road. Emails to lizdeclet71@aol and calls to 973-652-8433
are also welcome.
"I love what I am doing and wish I could do more," said Jayden, who will be starring as the Mole on November 15 and 16, at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., in the Livingston Community Player's production of, "A Year With Frog and Toad," at the Eisenhower Conference Center in Livingston."