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Seton Hall Student First Responders Commitment Celebrated By Aspiring Kindness Foundation

From left, Jason Tarantino, Jim Merizio and Mike Merizio present an Aspiring Kindness Foundation donation to Tracy Gottlieb. Credits: Kristine Foley

A charity in honor of the victims of the Seton Hall residence hall fire donated $22,500 to enable scholarships for Seton Hall students who are devoting their lives to careers as first responders. The donation was presented by Jason Tarantino, Mike Merizio and Jim Merizio to Tracy Gottlieb, Vice President of Student Services.

“We are so grateful to the Aspiring Kindness Foundation for their continued support of Seton Hall University and our students. This year's grant of $22,500 will be dedicated for scholarships to upper class students who have a commitment to first responder roles. This is a wonderful way to ensure the stability of the next generation of first responders. Seton Hall University and our students are deeply indebted to their generous spirit,” said Gottlieb.

The Aspiring Kindness Foundation was created by high school friends of Boland Hall fire victim Aaron Karol to honor him and the other young men who died in the January 2000 fire, Frank Caltabilota and John Giunta. The money was raised at the foundation’s Fourth Annual Golf Outing in June 2016.

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The Aspiring Kindness Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit public corporation that has raised more than $100,000 to support first responders, emergency service providers and fire prevention and education programs. Among earlier Seton Hall donations were $20,000 to Seton Hall’s Housing and Resident Life  for the first ever Mock Fire Emergency Exercise that brought together student volunteers, the Department of Housing and Residence Life, Public Safety, the South Orange Fire and Police departments and Rescue Squad, The Burn Center at Saint Barnabas Medical Center and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) volunteers. 

A donation of $12,000 was given to the University’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), enabling students to participate in the Send Silence Packing exhibit on suicide awareness and prevention to help young people struggling in the aftermath of a tragedy.

Foundation President Jason Tarantino said, “After last year’s fire exercise, we wanted to do something different. We feel this scholarship is a great idea because it recognizes Aaron and celebrates his life and also recognizes first responders and emergency service providers.”

Aspiring Kindness Foundation wanted to provide these four scholarships of $5,625 to the University, explained Jim Merizio.

“We wanted to connect these scholarships to Seton Hall students and to acknowledge the first responders commitment to a life of service,” he shared.

“The annual memorial mass, the remembrance garden and ringing of the bells lets everyone remember, even after 17 years, and share the story and the importance of fire safety,” said Mike Merizio. 

The foundation has its next fundraising event on March 26, a New Jersey Devils Event, and on June 19, the Fifth Annual Golf Outing at the Forest Hill Field Club in Bloomfield is scheduled. To learn more about these events and the foundation, visit

Seton Hall University is located at 400 South Orange Avenue, South Orange, NJ 07079.


One of the country’s leading Catholic universities, Seton Hall University has been developing students in mind, heart and spirits since 1856. Home to nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offering more than 90 rigorous academic programs, Seton Hal’s academic excellence has been singled out for distinction by The Princeton Review, U.S. News & World Report and Bloomberg Business.

Seton Hall, which embraces students of all religions, prepares its graduates to be exemplary servant leaders and global citizens. In recent years, the University has achieved extraordinary success. Since 2009, the University has seen record-breaking undergraduate enrollment growth in addition to an impressive 95-point increase in the average SAT scores of incoming freshmen. In the past decade, Seton Hall students and alumni have been awarded nearly 20 Fulbright Scholarships as well as other prestigious academic honors including a Rhodes Scholar. In the past five years, the University has invested more than $134 million in new campus buildings and renovations. And in 2015, Seton Hall launched a new School of Medicine as well as a new College of Communication and the Arts.

A founding member of the new Big East Conference, the Seton Hall Pirates field 14 NCAA Division I varsity sports teams. The University’s beautiful main campus is located in suburban South Orange, New Jersey, and is only 14 miles from New York City – offering its students a wealth of employment, internship, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The University’s nationally recognized School of Law is prominently located in downtown Newark. For more information, visit

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