WEST CALDWELL, NJ — As early as August, students and administrators at James Caldwell High School (JCHS) began planning and fundraising for the Wounded Warriors as part of their Soccer Saturday and community service activities, raising nearly $1,000 for the Wounded Warriors Project.

Soccer Saturday, held each September, was renamed four years ago to the Colonel John McHugh Memorial Soccer Saturday. Col. McHugh, a Caldwell native, was killed in the line of duty in May 2010. To raise funds for the Wounded Warriors Project this year, the teams held several fundraisers and presented the Wounded Warriors with a check for $955 in late November.

“Organizing and following through on these events takes a lot of time and effort,” said Rich Porfido, director of athletics at JCHS. “The students and their parents really worked together to make this a success. They were able to help those in need on both a national and a local level.”

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Each year, the boys and girls soccer teams at JCHS work together for a day of soccer and fundraising to benefit the JCHS Soccer Clubs and at least one charity. For the past several years, the event raised awareness and funds for both the Wounded Warriors Project and collected items for the Caldwell Food Pantry. The teams also complete a string of other community-service projects to raise funds for these programs, as well as donating coats to local coat drives, making sandwiches for nearby food pantries and more.

In addition to raising money for the Wounded Warriors Project and collecting items for the Caldwell Food Panty, Colonel John McHugh Memorial Soccer Saturday also acknowledges one male and one female player for their leadership by presenting them each with a scholarship called the McHugh Award. This year, the McHugh Award was awarded to seniors Emily Carnevale and Lorenzo Roselle.

According to girls’ soccer coach Mike Teshkoyan, since Colonel McHugh was a JCHS soccer alum, the Wounded Warriors is the ideal charity for the soccer teams to lend their efforts to. Teshkoyan said it was very noble of the boys and girls’ teams to work together putting time, effort and money into a cause that would also help kids with their own futures ahead of them.

“It’s a great thing for the boys and girls teams to work together over a worthy cause,” said Teshkoyan. “Sports teams, I think, are about more than just playing: it’s creating a feeling of comradery. Boys and girls in no other time in our history have been equals in athletics, so it’s nice that they united for such a good cause.”

For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project, visit http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org. For more information on the Caldwell Food Pantry, contact Maria Burak at 973-403-4623.