SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Creative Kids Academy (CKA) is dedicated to giving back to the community and, earlier this week, owner Dan Rinaldi announced that the Clinton Avenue preschool will be joining the efforts to help the Simmonds family of South Plainfield.

From now through Dec. 17, residents and CKA families wanting to donate non-perishable food, household and toiletry items along with monetary donations to Mary ‘Katie’ and Margaret Simmonds can drop them off at the school. All items collected at CKA between now and next Thursday will be delivered to the family in time for Christmas.

“Katie went to school here as a child and what she is going through right now is heart wrenching,” said Rinaldi. “We are asking our families to send in items so that we can create a basket of things this family needs. We hope our families who head to Target or Acme throughout the week will pick up an extra item – a box of pasta or even some soap – and help.”

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CKA also plans to make a monetary donation to the family as well. According to Rinaldi, money the staff would have normally spent for a holiday grab bag will instead be donated to Katie and Margaret Simmonds. “Bettina Devizio, a staff member here who knew Katie throughout her school years, first approached me with the grab bag idea and it all kind of grew from there,” he said. “Staff members – past and present – recall what a wonderful student she was and what a courageous young woman she has grown up to be. Anything we can do to help, we will.”

He added, “We hope to collect $400, maybe even more, and donate it to the family.”

While support for the Simmonds family has been pouring in over the past two weeks, Rinaldi said his hope is to see it continue into 2016. To aid in the effort, Rinaldi plans to establish a system at the school through which CKA families can sign up to provide the family with a nutritious meal each week, beginning in January.

“There is so much support pouring in right now and everyone is pumped to help but, in many cases, six months later, all the support is gone,” said Rinaldi, who lost his mom to lung cancer four years ago and understands how important it is for someone undergoing chemotherapy to eat healthy. “It’s easy to eat bad stuff during this time. Our goal is to have families signup each week to donate a healthy meal or food and continue doing this for as long as we can to take the burden off Katie.”

Members of the South Plainfield community looking to make a holiday donation to the Simmonds family can drop off items at Creative Kids Academy, 1615 Clinton Avenue, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday up to and including Dec. 17. For more information, contact Dan Rinaldi at (908) 753-4477.

“It’s extremely important to recognize that our borough has many families who are in need and can use our help throughout the year and not just around the holidays, we must take care of each other and spread peace; our children will catch on and learn to pay it forward,” said Rinaldi.