SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD, NJ – Students at School One Elementary School learned about the status of the starving children across the world in an assembly led by Principal Justin Fiory and members of two local Rotary Clubs in the school’s multi-purpose room on Thursday.

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 will participate in a Read-a-Thon from January 9-20 while pledging to raise money for Mary’s Meals, a non-profit organization that feeds more than one million hungry children across the world. Fiory explained to the students that it only costs $19.50 to feed a child for the whole school year. He compared that to the average cost of a dinner at the popular Friday’s restaurant, which would have been more than three times that amount. That analysis resonated with the students.

“There is a school that is participating in the Mary’s Meals program that has 279 kids and I think we can at least match that in our efforts,” suggested Fiory, who set a goal of raising more than $5,000 with the support from the local Rotary. “Every single penny we raise will benefit these children.”

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The young students were shown clips of several videos on Mary's Meals, including the one below:

The reading initiative is co-sponsored by the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club, which aims to empower kids at a young age to make a positive impact in the community through its ‘Dare to Be Great’ program.

“We’ve been speaking with the kids over the last few months on ways to get them involved and passionate about community service,” said Steve Goldberg, a member of the Fanwood-Scotch Plains Rotary Club, whose own children went to School One. “The kids themselves decided on the type of fundraiser they wanted to do and the organization that they wanted to support.”

Goldberg added that the Rotary Club will be teaching the students how to raise money for charities.

“We’re trying to show these children that they have the power to change the world and can do more good with their lives than they ever thought possible,” said Bill Graham of the Westfield Rotary Club. “In the short amount of time we talk about the video, 31 children will have died from hunger,” continued Graham. “The (students at School One) are participating in an opportunity to save a lot of lives.”

Participants in the Read-a-Thon program will have their names entered to win a prize. The more they read, the more of a positive impact they will have on the cause. Parents will authorize the minutes through the online reading program.

“Once we have a success here, we’d like to expand it to the rest of the schools in district,” added Goldberg. “We’d like to get the kids excited about doing something extraordinary that they never thought they would be able to do. I think it’s a win-win for everybody.” All proceeds will benefit Mary’s Meals, which is committed to finding a long-term solution to feeding malnourished children.