SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The celebration on Wednesday included leaders of the Scotch Plains Rotary Club, the mayor, the township manager, schools superintendent and even a UN ambassador. The dignitaries arrived to commend students at School One in Scotch Plains who raised $5,000 -- enough money to feed hundreds of the world’s poorest children for an entire year and enable them to attend school. The students also received thanks from Mayor Al Smith, who read a proclamation to the audience, and a video greeting from children in Malawi.

In December 2016, the elementary school students pledged to raise money through a read-a-thon to benefit Mary's Meals, which feeds more than one million hungry children across the world. The organization aims to provide chronically hungry children with one meal every school day and encourages education that can lift them out of poverty in later life.

As part of a dual program that includes the community-oriented visions of the Kids Care Club (School One Elementary School) and Dare to Be Great (Rotary Club), students participated in the read-a-thon from January 9-20. The reading initiative was co-sponsored by the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club, which actively aims to empower kids at a young age to make a positive impact in the community through its Dare to Be Great program.

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"We showed them videos in the fall encouraging the School One students that 'We've got the power!', and they proved it. Maybe we (The Rotary Club) will look to bring this program to other schools in the area," said Steve Goldberg, president-elect of the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club and assistant governor of Rotary district 7510.

"The goal really is to get them to read more and to have corporate sponsors make the donations rather than having the kids be fundraisers. It wound up being quite a success," is Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s only free daily paper. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook and twitter @SPF_TAP.