WARREN, NJ -  Whether planting a tree for Earth Day, preparing and serving dinner to people less fortunate or disseminating inspiring messages via colorful “kindness rocks,” the students and staff in the Warren Township School district continue to show in word and deed what giving back truly means.

At Woodland School, as part of a character education lesson on Thursday, May 5, students wore simple, handmade shirts, each displaying a single word that embodies good character, including “respect,” “caring,” “responsibility,” and “citizenship.”

“The students worked with the words on their shirts and explored activities around good character,” said Woodland principal Jeffrey Heaney.

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Nearby, at Central School, the fourth graders of Emily Cartolano-Gomez created and distributed “kindness rocks” throughout the school this month. The students decorated small rocks or seashells with a kind thought or encouraging word, then placed the rocks where they could be found by schoolmates.

As part of an annual faculty fundraising event, nearly 40 Central School staffers (along with spouses, dogs and babies) participated in a 5K run/walk as team “Purple Laces” on Sunday, April 17 to benefit the Resource Center of Somerset. The group also collected toiletries, sheets, blankets and towels for the center which provides help to victims of domestic abuse.

Students at Angelo L. Tomaso School and elsewhere in the district paid tribute to Mother Nature on Earth Day by picking up trash on school grounds, planting trees and/or tending to educational school gardens.

Each school runs a service club as well with students lending helping hands in all sorts of charitable wayorexample, members of the Mount Horeb Helping Hands Club, under the direction of Gina Cocivera-Wright, collected canned food for the Salvation Army in January, gently-used books for the Somerset County Library System in February and, in March, pet food and towels for homeless animals in the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter.

The Woodland Service Club, along with staff and parents, prepared and served over 65 meals for patrons of the South Bound Brook soup kitchen on Wednesday, April 20.

Members of “the service club not only donated their time to prepare and serve dinner, but they also brought boxes of needed items and a $200 monetary donation” from previous fundraisers, said teacher Christina (Beekman) Brink, who oversees the club.