Newark, NJ--People’s Preparatory Charter School continues its mission of giving back with a donation to benefit Newark kids in need during the holiday season.

Students and staff at the high school raised more than $700 dollars for Wynona's House, a Newark-based advocacy center dedicated to helping children who have been abused or neglected.

The school raised money for the nonprofit last year and aimed to broaden the campaign's scope this year to help even more children served by the organization during its Holiday Magic Campaign.

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Although students at the school are primarily low income, PPCS said it strives to instill in them the core value of empathy.

“One of our core values is empathy, which if often one of te hardest things to teach teens,” PPCS Community Program Coordinator Amy Pozmantier Eberly said.  “I can tell our kids have gained a better understanding and are more deeply connected. We would like to find more ways to instill empathy in our students.”

First opened in 2011, PPCS draws students from all five wards and 30 middle schools and is a growing community of learners, teachers and staff all working to support the school's core values of grit, empathy, achievement, curiosity, humility and enthusiasm.

The school boasts a rigorous college preparatory curriculum, with an emphasis on real-world experience and community involvement and service.

With a student population of 380, students come from a wide range of educational backgrounds, with 23 percent of the school's students classified as having disabilities. Ninety-five percent of its graduates will be first generation college graduates.

The school has launched a number of initiatives that serve to give back to the community, including its Day of Service, where students get a chance to give back to Newark and surrounding communities at organizations and agencies such as the Community Food Bank of New Jersey in Hillside, Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit and Earth Keepers in Newark’s Branch Brook Park.

Volunteer Day is another initiative of giving and collaboration, where school staff and board members spend the day with students on a mission to beautify the school.

As part of the school’s regular community service program, students volunteer their time at organizations and agencies throughout the area such as Habitat for Humanity, where students have built homes for needy families.

Others have volunteered at La Casa de Don Pedro, the Community Food Bank’s mobile food pantry program and local soup kitchens.

Pozmantier Eberly said the school first got involved with Wynona’s House as part of their internship program.

Launched in 2013, the school’s internship program places students with more than 20 different external organizations such as Wynona's House, Teach for America, United Way, University Hospital and NJPAC, among others.

During their internships, students in grades 10-12 design websites, create blog posts, update social media, plan events, assist customers and teach younger students, among other tasks, and develop a wide range of skills in preparation for future jobs and careers.

After participating in 10 hours of training and while receiving ongoing professional development, students intern twice a week from September to June, totaling five hours per week, or 175 hours throughout the school year.

Pozmantier Eberly said students were moved by a presentation about the Holiday Magic campaign presented at the school by Wynona's House Family Advocate Ashley Pires.

“The kids really rose to the occasion,” Pozmantier Eberly said. “They seemed really excited about it. Most of the kids were really invested in giving to a child even though some of our kids don’t have a lot.”

Pires lauded the school’s efforts.

“We work with People’s Prep continuously but this year they really outdid themselves,” Pires said. “Two-hundred kids will be able to have gifts this holiday season and People’s Prep is part of that. Its really great to have kids helping kids. We are so grateful for the dedication of Peoples Prep, their passion for our children truly shines through their hard work.”

Toys purchased through the campaign are placed inside Wynona's Workshop, where families can pick out brand new toys in a shop-like setting.

Pozmantier Eberly said the organization was thrilled with the donations.

“They were pretty excited and a little shocked,” she said. “We exceeded their expectations. I think it was really nice to show them that we still want to work with them and partner for them. The students and staff look forward to next year, when they plan to raise even more for this event.”

The Senator Wynona Lipman Child Advocacy Center--known as Wynona’s House--was founded 15 years ago as an organization dedicated to helping children who have been abused or neglected. The organization is an accredited member of the National Children’s Alliance (NCA), the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs). 

Wynona’s House served more than 1,000 children this year alone.