Giving Back

Fish Tank Initiative Launched by Two High School Students Becomes ‘Reel’-ality at South Plainfield Senior Center

South Plainfield High School juniors David Loniewski and Christopher Shine with Tree Olano, director of the South Plainfield Senior Center. Credits: Victoria Caruso
The fish tank at the South Plainfield Senior Center.

South Plainfield, NJ – Thanks to the dedication and fundraising efforts of two local students, members of the South Plainfield Senior Center now have a fish tank to enjoy.

Last summer, friends David Loniewski and Christopher Shine reached out to the center’s director Tree Olano to inquire about providing a long lasting donation to the senior community in the form of a fish tank. Getting the green light, the South Plainfield High School juniors launched a fundraising initiative and sought donations from corporate and local businesses as well as friends and family to fund their project.

“We came up with the idea to do something nice and give back to the seniors and bounced around a few ideas,” Christopher told TAPinto South Plainfield, adding that after visiting the center last year he noticed they didn't have something like a fish tank to enjoy.

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“We like to fish so it seemed like a good idea to set up a fish tank,” said David.

Over the months that followed, Chris and David raised approximately $1,200 and were able to purchase the tank and its cabinet structure, fish, supplies, a filter and other equipment. The tank, which is currently filled with close two dozen small guppies and tetras, was officially dedicated to the seniors Feb. 28.

 “The senior center fish tank symbolizes good life, good health, and abundance to all,” said Olano, extending thanks to all who donated and to Chris and David for their efforts.

“These kids are so busy. They are student athletes. They have something to do every minute of the day while working to keep their grades up, playing a sport, trying to get into college,” Olano added. “To do all that and then decide they wanted to raise money for a fish tank at the center…I am so impressed by both of them.”

Chris’ mom Cheryl Shine added, “They came up with this idea to help the senior members in the community and provide them something to enjoy…I want to thank the community because everyone was generous in their donations. Without them, and our family and friends, the boys wouldn't have able to do this.”

During the dedication, members gathered around the tank, many commending the students for the efforts and expressing what a wonderful addition it was to the center. “I think it is great. Simply wonderful,” said senior center member Rose Marie Wilson. “I have always been fascinated by fish and can watch them all day.”

The tank is currently filled with over 20 fish, including guppies and tetras, and additional fish will be added in the coming weeks. A committee comprised of senior center members will be charged with feeding the fish and maintenance, including filter replacement and water cleaning, will be performed as needed by members of the South Plainfield High School Environmental Club.

“Their overall goal was to do something for the community. Both David and Chris are into the outdoors and enjoy fishing and this is what they came up with,” said David’s mom Andrea Loniewski. “I think the seniors are going to love it. I am very proud of both of them.”

“You don't often come across kids who want to do something, on their own, for the community and its seniors,” added Olano. “I am so grateful and so honored that you chose the center and wanted to give back to the seniors who have given you all so much over the years. Thank you both so much.”

TAPinto South Plainfield is South Plainfield’s only free daily paper. Sign up to get all the news as it happens at and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at @SoplainfieldTAP.

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