SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Students at South Plainfield Middle School (SPMS) are learning about staying healthy while raising money for the American Heart Association (AHA). 

On March 13, all seventh and eighth graders took part in the school’s first Hoops For Heart (HFH) fundraiser and cardiovascular awareness event. Run and organized by physical education teacher Craig Salvatore with assistance from PE/Health teachers Mike Battista, Meredith Garofalo, Bill Hamilton, and Cheryl Hughes, the goal was to promote physical activity, a heart-healthy lifestyle, and community service. 

“I’ve run this program at another district in the past and thought it would be something fun to do to help raise money and promote health and wellness,” said Salvatore, adding that the middle school has a basketball unit, February was American Heart Month, and, normally, there is March Madness. “The goal was to tie it all in – diet, exercise, staying drug- and vape-free – and have a little bit of fun and some friendly competition.” 

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Although the school operated on a modified/early dismissal schedule on the day Hoops for Heart was held, all physical education classes were able to participate. During each class, music played as students took part in various basketball-themed stations, including foul shots, 3-point contests, three-by-threes, and dribbling along with jump rope and hula hoop activities. 

"The South Plainfield Middle School physical education department would like to thank Principal Leo Whalen and Assistant Principal Kelly Richkus for letting us bring this awesome program in,” said Garofalo. “The kids and the teachers had a blast and it was a great distraction from what was going on in the world that day.”

SPMS launched its Hoops for Hearts initiative in early March and will continue to collect donations over the coming weeks; anyone wishing to support the cause can do so by visiting; scroll to ‘find your school’ and select South Plainfield Middle School. 

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