LITTLE FALLS/WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Passaic Valley High School was honored on May 15 by the New Jersey State Board of Education for their work on the Alfred Baumann Library’s “Dream Mats” project. 

Mayor Keith Kazmark and Library Director Linda Hoffman launched the community service project in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 21. PVHS Superintendent Dr. Joanne Cardillo and Media Specialist Leanne Weiss partnered with the Library in helping to develop the imitative for the school.

“This project was a great example of how public libraries and school libraries can work together to serve our community and achieve great things,” Hoffman said. 

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The project was aimed at providing persons experiencing homelessness with portable sleeping mats to help protect them from the elements and serve as a cushion on hard surfaces. Dream mats are made by crocheting “plarn” - yarn made from recyclable plastic bags. Additionally, the mats are constructed from used plastic bags, helping to keep them out of our oceans and landfills.  

PVHS and the Library hosted a day of service on Feb. 14, where over 75 people of all ages stopped by during the course of the day to work on the project. Simultaneously, students’ at all three district public schools and PVHS pitched in by collecting, sorting, flattening, cutting the bags and looping strips together and even learning how to crochet. Elementary and middle school students worked on the project in their art classes. At PVHS, there were 76 participants, that included 61 students, staff members, staff from the Alfred Baumann Public Library and parents that worked on looping and crocheting strips. During the event on February 1, participants created and completed four mats and had another 10 near completion.

“The partnership between the Library and the high school made this initiative happen, along with our community volunteers - all in service to help others,” said Mayor Kazmark. 

Weiss submitted the project to the New Jersey Department of Education, hopeful that the team would be recognized for its work. Each spring, the state honors students or student groups who have made significant contributions to their schools, communities or families. Executive County Superintendent Carlos Rodriguez announced to Dr. Cardillo that the “Dream Mats” project team would be the recipients for this prestigious recognition.

The recognition ceremony was on May 15 at Mercer County Technical Institute. Students and student groups from 10 counties were recognized. PVHS student Gabriella Cordova accepted the award for her team and was joined by Ms. Weiss, Dr. Cardillo, Ms. Mikhail, Mrs. Joyce and Mrs. Hoffman.  

Dr. Cardillo, Ms. Weiss, and Mrs. Hoffman look forward to future partnerships to continue to achieve great things for our community and our students. 

For more information about the “Dream Mats” project contact Mrs. Linda Hoffman at the Alfred Baumann Free Public Library.