SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- Anushka Dalal, a 14-year-old rising freshman at the Wardlaw+Hartridge School, conducted a charity drive over the last two weeks benefiting the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and the VA Lyons Women’s Trauma Unit & PTSD Ward. Anushka collected over two carloads of food, snacks, and personal hygiene items for distribution to both organizations.    

The Emmanuel Cancer Foundation provides free, in-home support for families in New Jersey facing pediatric cancer. The Women’s Ward at the VA is designed to help the Women Veterans acclimate from their time in the military back to civilian life. There are programs offer to guide them in coping with issues that may have arisen while serving their country as well as dealing with family and everyday issues.

"My family and I noticed that in the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, there were many organizations helping those who were impacted. As more time passed, it seemed like there was less talk about helping," Anushka said. "I had an urge to do something that would benefit the families and individuals being affected. I decided that now would be the best time to help."

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Scotch Plains deputy township manager Margaret Heisey guided her and shared organizations that needed help.

"I chose the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and the VA Lyons Women's Trauma Unit and PTSD Ward (Men and Women), because their missions resonated with me the most. More importantly, I would be able to know exactly where my food drive donations would go and how they would benefit the people in need," Anushka said.

After speaking with the coordinators, Ms. Barbara Kopel of the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and Ms. Janet Blaes of the VA Lyons, she was sure that the donations would be going to the right causes.

"I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to give back in this time of need. I learned more about these wonderful organizations and how they tirelessly work to better the lives of veterans and families that have a child with cancer," Anushka said. "Throughout this entire process I learned most about coming together, because anyone can help by themselves but it's when you come together as a community, that really makes an impact."

She is pictured with Barbara Kopel, Senior Regional Director of the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation, and Janet Blaes (Scotch Plains Volunteer of the Year, 2016), who works with the Veterans at Lyons.

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