SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - South Plainfield Elks Lodge #2298 held a very special event for the winners of the statewide Elks Annual Poster Project on May 30th.  This year, 60 participants entered through the South Plainfield Elks Lodge and took home trophies, medals, certificates and cash prizes. 

“We are the Special Children’s Committee,” said Patrick Donnelly opening the ceremony. “What we do is help out children in need here in the community.  I’d like to first thank the teachers of South Plainfield for incorporating the poster contest into the curriculum during the year.”

Each school year, the New Jersey State Elks Association Special Children’s Committee invites all students throughout the state to participate in their Annual Poster Project. The South Plainfield Elks Lodge had 60 entries alone this year and the Elks invited all who participated to partake in their awards ceremony.  Serving ice cream and cookies to celebrate, the lodge was full of excitement as each winner was called to the front of the room to receive their award.

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“South Plainfield had 18 lodge winners, six district winners and two state winners,” said Donnelly, who has been heading up the Special Needs Poster Project for the South Plainfield Elks Lodge for over 25 years.  “The combined cash awards to students was $265.”

The theme of this year’s poster project was “Helping Our Communities.” Students were asked to show how the Elks help family, friends or community.  Grant School had the most entries, and Principal Patrick Sarullo attended the event with several members of Grant School’s staff.

“It is always great to incorporate helping the community into the classroom everyday, and we are able to do that with help from the Elks Lodge,” said Chelsea Hunt, 5th Grade Special Education Teacher.  “This also allows students to share their creative side and artistic abilities.  I am already looking forward to next year!”

South Plainfield Schools had 56 participants and four winners from The Elks Camp Moore, an Elks sponsored camp in the Ramapo Mountains of New Jersey that offers children with special needs the opportunity to have the camp experience with a week’s vacation away from home.

“One of the other big things that we do, is we sponsor children to go to Camp Moore,” said  Donnelly. “Camp Moore children participated in this program, and for the first time, they went through the district and state judging along with our kids here from school.”

In addition to winning a medal for their posters, cash prizes and trophies were awarded to numerous students.  Divided into grade category levels K-4, 5-8, and 9-12, winners who took 1st place in their category received $35, 2nd place received $25 and 3rd place received $20.  Those posters selected to go onto the state competition received $75 for 1st place, $50 for 2nd place and $30 for 3rd place.

Students were asked to color with crayon or markers, use watercolors or oils, and also had the option of using computer generated images.  All of the poster board that South Plainfield Schools and Camp Moore used was generously donated by South Plainfield’s Multi Packaging Solutions through the efforts of Executive Assistant Vicki Murgolo and Materials Manager Frank Figurelli. 

The South Plainfield Special Children’s Committee works within the community to support children with special needs.  Most recently, the committee orchestrated the South Plainfield Elks Lodge’s donation of several adaptive swings to enhance South Plainfield playgrounds and enable children of all abilities to play together.  Leading the committee is Jim Buckelew and members include: Debbie Czech, Suzanne Purcell, Kevin Schweers and Tim Dziomba.

“I’d like to thank our young artists,” said Donnelly as he wrapped up the evening.  “You all do a great job and it’s very difficult for us to try to judge the posters.  I’d like to thank the parents for allowing the kids to participate and the teachers and the administrators for allowing us to be a small part of your curriculum.  I hope you all had a good time and I hope you have a great summer!”