More than 100 students from Blair Academy joined community residents for a Day of Service at Project Self-Sufficiency’s Newton campus.  Blair Academy students assisted community volunteers with planting vegetables, potting flowers, painting picnic tables, spreading mulch, and working on other maintenance projects.  By the end of the day, nine community gardens had been planted and over 100 pots of tomato plants and cumber plants, as well as 50 pots of flowers were distributed around the campus.  The gardens will provide fresh vegetables to the agency’s low-income clientele and developmentally disabled adults selected by SCARC and Abilities of Northwest Jersey.  Volunteers will care for the gardens well into the autumn.


This is the fifth year that Blair Academy has set aside a day for coordinated community service efforts, and Head of School Chris Fortunato noted that the Day of Service builds upon the School’s tradition of giving back.  Approximately 400 Blair Academy students volunteered at nearly 20 non-profit organizations across the region.  “Blair’s Day of Service empowers those in our community to make a difference in the lives of others," Fortunato said. "It also provides Blair with a wonderful opportunity to show students firsthand the rewards that come from helping those around them and being good to our neighbors, while further cementing connections across our own community and beyond."


On Blair’s Day of Service, a small group of Blair musicians joined the School’s performing arts department chair and director of instrumental music Jennifer Pagotto in visiting Project Self-Sufficiency’s Little Sprouts Early Learning Center preschool, where they played a mix of children’s tunes as well as some classical melodies.  The group shared with the kids a handful of percussion instruments and invited them to play along for several numbers.  “We wanted the children to feel the beat of the music, to move to it, and, most importantly, to have fun,” explained Pagotto. “Our students were especially excited to visit Project Self-Sufficiency because they love music and the fact that experiencing it brings such joy to the preschoolers’ faces.”

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“We are humbled by the efforts of the student volunteers from Blair Academy and our friends in the community who have come together today to help to address Project Self-Sufficiency’s needs in a meaningful, long-lasting way,” remarked Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency.   “The maintenance projects completed by the volunteers have beautified our campus and the vegetables produced by the community gardens will help to alleviate the food insecurity faced by many Sussex County residents during the summer months.”


Project Self-Sufficiency is celebrating its thirtieth year of improving the lives of low-income families residing in northwestern New Jersey.  The agency’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of holistic, respectful, and comprehensive services enabling low-income single parents, teen parents, two-parent families, and displaced homemakers to improve their lives and the lives of their children through the achievement of personal and economic self-sufficiency and family stability.  Since 1986 Project Self-Sufficiency has served more than 25,000 families.  For more information, visit or call 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500.