SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – In addition to serving as a patriotic tribute to the men and women who have or currently defend our country, South Plainfield’s inaugural Field of Honor, held last month at Monument Park, also raised much-needed funds to benefit a local agency.

At a council meeting June 19, event organizer and South Plainfield resident Hannah Rhoads, 16, presented a $5,110.35 donation to Marge Ackerman, director of the borough’s department of social services. The money, raised through sponsorships, donations and flag purchases associated with the May 2017 Field of Honor, will be used to benefit the South Plainfield Food Pantry.

“Hannah did a wonderful job and we truly appreciate that she chose social services to be the recipient of the Field of Honor donations,” said Ackerman, adding that the money will be used to purchase much needed food store gift cards as well as to help offset utility and prescription costs for local families.

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The Field of Honor took place during Armed Forces Week 2017 (May 14-May 20, which also happened to be Armed Forces Day). Part of a national movement run by the non-profit Colonial Flag Foundation (CFF), the event will celebrate the United States and pay tribute to all servicemen and women, veterans and first responders. Last July, Hannah attended the state’s first Field of Honor event in Bedminster. There, over 200 American flags were dedicated and erected at the town’s River Road Park, including one in memory of Hannah’s late brother, Ryan T. Rhoads, an active duty Army specialist who passed away on May 21, 2015. 

Wanting to hold a similar event in her hometown to honor Ryan along with other veterans, active military personnel, fallen soldiers, and first responders, Hannah launched an effort and, with support from Mayor Matt Anesh and the Borough Council, began planning last month’s Field of Honor. She also set a goal to raise $2,500 for a local cause, selecting the department of social services and, specifically, the South Plainfield Food Pantry.

Through sponsorships, flag purchases and donations, $9,226 was collected and, after factoring in such costs as licensing, flag purchases, freight and delivery, and other miscellaneous expenses, a total of $5,010.35 was raised. Also, last week, an additional $100 donation came in, bringing the total donated to the department of social services up to $5,110.35.  

“I’m thrilled that we exceeded the $2,500 goal. The sponsorship and donations put us over the top and really helped with expenses,” said Hannah, adding, “This money is going to a fantastic organization that helps South Plainfield residents in need. I’m glad to be able to pass this along to Mrs. Ackerman.”

During Monday’s meeting, Hannah also thanked all those who helped make the event a success, including Mayor Matt Anesh, Council President Derryck White and Councilmembers Christine Faustini and Joe Wolak, along with the Boyle Memorial Foundation and members of the South Plainfield Department of Public Works.

 “The inaugural Field of Honor in May was a huge success. I received many hugs and comments before, during and after the event,” said Hannah, adding, “It was breathtaking and very patriotic and we couldn't have asked for a better area in town.”

You did a great job…,” Mayor Matt Anesh told Hannah, letting her know also she is now the ‘event chairwoman’ for as long as she wants to be.  “We couldn't have pulled this off without you. Congratulations.”

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