GLEN RIDGE, NJ – The chant of J-E-T-S rang out Tuesday as an enthusiastic bunch of children saw their football heroes approach. The children are attendees of the Montclair Child Development Center (MCDC).

In partnership with United Way of Northern New Jersey, the New York Jets, along with the New Jersey National Guard and NFL Foundation, contributed $45,000 to install a PLAY 60 Fitness Zone playground at the MCDC. This new playground is part of United Way’s $220,000 campaign to ensure safe, quality playgrounds at child care centers and preschools throughout its five county region.

Laura Bruno, spokesperson for the United Way of Northern New Jersey, noted that the “organization and the Jets have partnered for the last 16 years for the NFL’s Hometown Huddle.” The Hometown Huddle is an NFL-wide day of service with United Ways across the nation.

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Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson said, “This is what it’s all about: strong organizations coming together to do something for kids.”

The new playground was needed to accommodate the Center’s growing Early Head Start program, serving infants through 3 years old. “Outdoor learning through play allows children to have physical activity while connecting with the natural world, which improves children’s overall fitness level, said MCDC Executive Director Tanya Poteat. Poteat was very appreciative of the equipment and noted that the MCDC would not have been able to afford it on their limited funding.

Also in attendance were Assemblyman Thomas Giblin and 4th Ward Councilor Dr. Reneee Baskerville.

After the speeches and the check presentation, the Jets players, members of the New Jersey National Guard and 35 students from MCDC put the finishing touches on the PLAY 60 Fitness Zone playground by installing the surface under the equipment and planting flowers in the area.  Then it was play time. Some of the children tested out the new equipment while others played football with the Jets and members of the New Jersey National Guard.

Quinton Coples, one of the 10 Jets players in attendance, is the United Way Team NFL partner. Coples said he is happy to be of service to the state of New Jersey. He said, “The United Way provides a great opportunity to work with kids hands-on.” Other Jets players included Dakota Dozier, Kerry Hyder, Ikemefuna Enemkpali, Quincy Enunwa, Shaq Evans, Dexter McDougle, Dashaun Phillips, Brent Qvale, and Marcus Williams

Judging from the squeals and smiles, the children certainly enjoyed the attention and the new playground.

About United Way of Northern New Jersey

United Way of Northern New Jersey is a nonprofit organization working to improve people’s lives and strengthen communities by focusing on Education, Income, and Health.  These are the building blocks for a good life – a quality education that leads to a stable job; the tools needed to achieve financial stability; and good health.  We lead caring communities to create long-lasting changes that transform people’s lives.  Together, united, we can inspire hope and create opportunities for a better tomorrow. United Way of Northern New Jersey serves Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties as well as portions of suburban Essex County, including the Caldwells, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Glen Ridge, Livingston, Millburn-Short Hills, Montclair, Roseland, and Verona.  Give.  Advocate.  Volunteer.  LIVE UNITED.  To learn more, call 973.993.1160 or visit www.UnitedWayNNJ.org.