ELIZABETH, NJ —  “It’s nice to look out into a happy crowd this evening,” Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen said at the start of Thursday’s Freeholder meeting, which was dedicated to awarding grants.

Freeholders Linda Carter and Al Mirabella presented five county high schools with funds to reward their efforts in their Union County Student Training and Enrichment initiative. 

Four schools received honorable mentions along with a check for $250: UC TEAMS Charter School, Roselle Park High School, Linden High School and Governor Livingston High School. 

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This year’s first place award of $1,000 went to Union County Vocational-Technical High School in Scotch Plains. 

The UCSTEP program is a youth leadership program that brings students together from across the county and tasks them with a community service challenge.

This year UCSTEP partnered with the Community Food Bank in Hillside and focused their efforts on “Cans for Kids.” Their efforts resulted in 2,600 cans and 6,000 pounds of food donated.

“All of the schools did a fabulous job,” Carter said. 

Grants were awarded to the five schools that demonstrated the greatest effort and involvement with the service project, including volunteering and social media outreach.