MILLBURN, NJ - Millburn Middle School 8th graders in Ms. Mary D’Alessio’s class were recently inspired by their reading of John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” to organize a collection of paper products and other necessities for two homes for disabled and displaced women in Jersey City.  Ms. D’Alessio says, “While learning about Steinbeck’s less defined members of society, students discussed how literature can have a positive effect on the individual and the world in which he lives.” 

In order to make a positive impact and difference in their world, students started a collection they called “Paper for Progress” to support the work of Matt Laracy and his family who created two group homes in Jersey City, NJ that provide safe, secure residential housing for low-income women.  

Mr. Laracy came to Ms. D’Alessio’s class to accept the donations made by all of the 8th grade students on Team M, more than a dozen boxes worth of paper towels, toilet paper, and other toiletries and personal items needed by the women.  

Sign Up for E-News

Mr. Laracy told the class that at their non-profit homes in Jersey City, Magnificat Home and Mary’s Place, “Home, far more than a mere shelter or residence, is understood as a family, a place of safety, beauty, dignity, love and joy. “  8th grade student Giulia Nisita also included a notebook with a beautiful inscription that told the women that they could record their memories on the pages and feel that their pasts and their futures would be united as a family. Students also wrote inspirational  messages of hope, courage, friendship and peace and placed them on the boxes.

For more information about Magnificat Home and their goals and needs, please go to