NEWTON, NJ—The Weekend Bag Program, started by Newton High School alumnae Isobel Costello continues to help feed people in need throughout the pandemic. The Class of 2020 graduate started the program when she was a freshman.
Each week the program helps children in Newton and surrounding school districts. The March 20 school closure has not stopped the Costello family from delivering the meals and hygiene products.
Throughout the challenges of the pandemic, Isobel Costello has received numerous donations to the Weekend Bag Program.
In May, she was recognized in the first virtual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards national recognition celebration. Along with this recognition, which includes a $1,000 scholarship and engraved silver medallion. Costello was given $2,500 to donate towards the local COVID-19 response efforts of a nonprofit organization of her choice.
She chose The Weekend Bag Program, naturally. Through this program students in need can get Weekend Bags. Each bag has with six meals; two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, canned vegetable, canned fruit, canned tuna, two drinks, two snacks, toilet paper, tissues and three hygiene items. It costs approximately $10 for each Weekend Bag.
Many people and organizations have come together, raising money to donate to the program. According to Dawn Costello, Isobel’s mom, some of them include:
- The Jersey Thunder Lacrosse Team who raised $630 and the Gallucci Family who matched it for a total donation of $1,260; “truly a blessing," Dawn said.
- The "A Meal For Amiel" team chose to donate the proceeds of a fundraiser to Costello's initiative. The A Meal for Amiel team reached out to Costello, preferring to give her the $3,000 check in person. “Wow," Dawn Costello said. "Amazing so grateful - such a blessing."
- The Gigante Family and their son Joey who raised some turkeys, got them processed and donated them to The Weekend Bag Program.
- The Lexi Faye Heart of Gold Foundation and Lexi Faye Everyone Matters Foundation whose donation combined was $1,750
- The Lo Family contributed many food donations and monetary donation as well providing items to create 60 amazing Easter Bags
- The Snellen family donated many food and hygiene donations
- The Spinelli family donated food donations and five Easter Hams.
- The Sparta Junior Women’s Club donated $445
- The Sussex County Superintendents Round Table donated $1,000
- The Jackie Decker-Sanchez Household provided a truck load of donations.
- A "super huge thank you to George the Store Manager at The Weiss Markets in Franklin and his wonderful team of employees who consistently and most generously gave to The Weekend Bag Program."
- The Tranquility Seventh-day Adventist Church and their Adventure Club contributed many food donations
“Our Community has been so awesome so generous and so helpful to Isobel and The Weekend Bag Program Inc," Dawn Costello said. "Because of all of you, the Weekend Bag Program Warriors, the kids on this program continued to the get the help they needed during this pandemic that has made it hard for those not normally needing help and although we were in a nationwide lockdown Isobel and her sisters were able to shop, fill and deliver over 840 Weekend Bags to kids in our communities during this time. This has not been an easy task for these girls they have had to get very creative. A huge thank you to our school liaisons that have worked side by side with us."
The 840 bags contained 5040 meals which included a total of:
- 420 rolls of toilet paper
- 420 packs of facial tissues
- 2520 assorted hygiene items
- 840 cans of fruit
- 840 cans of tuna
- 840 cans of vegetables
- 1700 snack items
- 1700 drink items
Because of the monetary donations the program has received during this pandemic, The Weekend Bag Program has the funds to start the upcoming school year successfully.