NEWARK, NJ - Project Ready will deliver over 1,000 care packages this week to graduating Newark high school seniors across the city heading to college or to serve in the military.
The organization hosted over 60 volunteers on Saturday to prepare care packages to assist Newark seniors as they start the latest chapter in their post-secondary journey.
The organization aims to engage Newark residents in actions that help protect high-quality education in the city said Shennell McCloud, executive director of Project Ready. The initiative is an extension of that work.
“This action brings us back to our why," McCloud said. "Why we fight every day to make sure our kids have the education that they need and why we are excited to send our kids off to college."
Inside the boxes were typical items like toothbrushes, dryer sheets, and other household items that students would need in dorms or away in the military. Mail-in voter registration forms were also included to ensure that students can conveniently exercise their vote in presidential and local elections.
Packages were dropped off to about 80 graduating seniors at Great Oaks Legacy Charter School on Saturday. Remaining schools include Newark Collegiate Academy, Marion P. Thomas, People’s Prep and North Star. A delivery will be dropped off for the Newark Public Schools senior awards dinner on Friday.
Kiara Page, a graduating senior at Barringer High School, thinks this is a great gesture for Newark students.
“It will help us a lot because a lot of times parents can not afford to get some of these things for college if students dorm,” said Page, who will be attending Montclair State University. “Some parents even struggle to pay for college, but this mainly serves as a positive reinforcement to students that you can do it.”
Going away to college for the first time can be lonely, especially if a student is the first in their family to go.
Tommy Luna, an eighth-grade mathematics teacher at Rise Academy Middle School, says that receiving a care package is a simple yet huge gesture of support.
“Knowing students who have received these before, hearing from them and knowing my experience, it means a lot because you have people behind you and supporting you no matter what,” said Luna. “Especially a number of our students who are first generation in college, that is one of the best messages to give.”
What impressed him, even more, that day was how the community came to work together in support of the students.
“It was such a powerful visual to see members of my city, members of my community go all out for our kids, in droves, doing the work to let them know that you have the city behind you,” said Luna.