The Joy of Helping Others

North Plainfield’s East End Elementary School prides themselves on encouraging their students, parents, and staff to become actively involved in supporting worthy community causes and providing service wherever needed.  Proudly this year, the school established a fundraiser to help the victims of Hurricane Maria and partnered with women in the African nation of Uganda to facilitate new business opportunities to elevate poverty.

Recently, kindergarten teacher Melissa Saul initiated another opportunity to engage the students in promoting their school’s values of caring, respect, determination, and appreciation as a means of continuing their charitable efforts. Ms. Saul proposed that the school collaborate with the Blessing Bag Brigade of NJ to come and meet with the students to talk about the needs of the homeless and how the school could help to provide service.

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At an assembly, Mr. Kevin Garrison spoke to the students and shared how he started the charitable organization a few years ago when traveling daily to New York City for his job. “I saw so many homeless people without basic necessities and I knew I could and should help them”, shared Garrison.

As part of this mission, Garrison began to assemble bags with assorted toiletries, like toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and bottles of water and personally hand out the bags. Seeing the impact the bags had, he quickly recruited friends and family to assist him. “Our compassion proves to them, that people do want to help”, he said.

Ms. Saul quickly organized the school community and put out the word requesting needed items for the creation of “blessing bags” to be assembled by East End’s students and staff.  By the end of two weeks, the school’s hallway was filled with supplies.

On a special day in May, Mr. Garrison joined the staff and students from kindergarten through fourth grade and assembled collectively over 250 bags for distribution.

“With this community service project, our students can grow from an understanding of how they can help solve societal problems and become influential citizens”, said Ms. Saul.

Principal John Ferguson added, “We are very fortunate at East End School to have involved teachers, like Ms. Saul, who are willing to take the time to organize and facilitate these wonderful service projects.  We want our students to understand this societal problem and how they too can be of help to those in need. “

Proving that kindness and the desire to help others is contagious, first grade student Matthew Cofre Sanchez, speaking to Mr. Garrison announced, “I want to be just like you when I get older.”