NEWTON, N.J. — Teachers from Newton’s elementary school, Merriam Avenue, got together to raise money for the school’s PTO program through an event known as “McTeacher Night.”

They partnered with the Newton McDonalds for the second year in a row to host an event in which the teachers worked behind the counter and served customers.

The events were held in September to start off the school year and again in April to round it out. Each one ran from 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. and included teachers making milkshakes and drinks, taking orders at the counter, making French fries, and even cooking chicken and meat in the back, all with the help of the employees of the Newton McDonalds

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The total amount of money raised throughout the year was $900. In September they were able to raise $400 and this past April, they raised an additional $500 toward the PTO.

There was not a single free seat in the lobby during either event. One parent mentioned that she had to park in the Marshalls parking lot because there were no spots left in McDonalds’ parking lot. Parents were stopping by before and after sports practices, grabbing food for the whole family, or even just a little something all to support the cause.

Kenney Lutz, Assistant Principal at Merriam spearheaded the entire fundraising operation for Merriam Avenue, according to one of the parents and board of education member Joan Faye.

“He came up with the idea, he contacted the management and owner of McDonalds, he presented the idea to the PTO, he reached out to the Merriam Ave. staff for volunteers, he created the flyer and essentially organized the whole event. Kenny Lutz believes in connecting the school district with the community. He works hard on that mission.”

Last year was the first time Merriam had partnered with McDonalds. “We made $555, but McDonald's rounded it up to $750,” said Lutz. “The McDonald's staff was top shelf and so helpful to us. They were so patient with us and really helped us out when we needed it. Their manager, Bill, and the owner Todd Morton, are two great people who care a great deal about Newton and its students.”

McDonalds has done events like these in the past and when Lutz heard there was a McDonalds in Newton, he brought the idea up to the school and went to the manager of Newton’s store, who put him in touch with Morton.

“We actually talked about it very little. We just kind of picked a date and it sounded like a great idea and we just went with it,” Lutz said.

“Our first event, was the first experience we had with Newton coming into the restaurant and it went very well,” Morton commented, “but the second one was huge. The school did a great job promoting it on their end, we were ready for them and it was a great night. Teachers actually got to go behind the counter and see how it’s done and for the kids that’s obviously a big draw for them, cause they want to come see their teachers working at McDonalds. So it was a win-win for both of us.”

Morton mentioned that while they enjoy the promotion the event gave to McDonald’s, they enjoy partnering with Merriam because they enjoy giving back to the community that they are in.

Lutz brought the idea to the PTO and they did the promotions for it. “It pretty much runs itself.” McDonald’s donated 15% of their proceeds to Merriam.

“The first time we did it, before the kiosks were put it, the line was wrapping all the way around the store and people were waiting on their food. This time, now that the kiosks are in, people we’re waiting as long,” said Lutz.

Morton mentioned that the kiosks were a great way for the kids to be able to kind of “create their own meal.” While they had help in ordering through the kiosk, the kids essentially were in control of creating their own meal and ordering their food.

“The first one we did, we honestly were not expecting it to be as big as it was, so when it came to the second event, we were ready for it,” Morton said. “All the people that came in, it was just a great night.”

Lutz is hoping that in the future McDonald’s can partner with the school system in more events and Morton explained that they want to be more involved in the community around them and do whatever they can to help out the town as well.

For more pictures of the McTeacher nights of 2018, please visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/TAPintoNewton/photos/?tab=albums#