NEWTON, NJ— Pass It Along marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day with its annual MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 15, at the Pass It Along Youth Center in Newton. The day brought together teens from Pass It Along’s Leadership programs, including Service Corps and goLEAD. The teens created First Night Bags for Family Promise and assembled toiletry kits to be handed out at the Stand Down for Homeless Veterans. The teens ended the day by painting inspirational murals.

The First Night Bags will be given to children as they enter the Family Promise program and contain nightlights, coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals and more. The bags are intended to give comfort children. In total, the teens assembled over 70 bags.

The items were collected by Pass It Along clubs at Wallkill Valley Regional High School, Sparta High School, High Point Regional High School and Sussex Technical School, the Kittatinny Regional High School Interact Club, the North Warren Regional High School National Honor Society and Giant Gymnastics.

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“The teens are always looking for different ways to give back, and we thought that partnering with Family Promise was the perfect project for our entire community to work on,” Kathy Rathbone, Director of Annual Events and Clubs said. “It’s incredible to watch these teens come together on their day off from school because they want to serve and give back.”

Incorporated in 1997, Family Promise of Sussex County has provided services to assist families and single men and women as they work towards housing stability and self-sufficiency. LeeAnn Trott, a Housing Specialist from Family Promise was on hand to collect the bags and gave teens the opportunity to learn more about Family Promise.

The toiletry kits, containing toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and soap will be handed out during Pass It Along’s Stand Down for Homeless Veterans, hosted in May. Over 80 homeless veterans from Sussex, Warren and Hunterdon counties are bussed in to the Sparta Evangelical Free Church in Sparta to meet with representatives from organizations that provide transitional housing for veterans, counseling, and legal and medical services, among others. Teens are paired with the veterans for the day.

After assembling the First Night Bags and toiletry kits, the teens took their inspiration and painted murals at the Youth Center to serve as a memory of the day. The Youth Center, provided by Thorlabs, is where all Pass It Along leadership programs are held.

Pass It Along is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in Sparta.  Pass It Along's mission is to build confident, resilient, compassionate teenagers through self-discovery, volunteerism and leadership. By participating in the Pass It Along program, teenagers gain a strong sense of self, learn about the positive effects of helping others and are equipped to avoid risky behaviors. For more information and to view all of our programs we have to offer, please visit www.passitalong.org .