WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Elementary school students from the Caldwell-West Caldwell (CWC) district recently participated in the Adopt a Night Night Package Program through the CWC’s Expeditionary Learning Program (ELP), an after-school activity offered at all CWC elementary schools in order to foster the development of perseverance, problem solving skills, group collaboration and self-direction.

This year, ELP facilitators guided students to explore personal learning passions while still following a common theme of giving back to the community. Students planned and organized a variety of school events to raise money for Project Night Night’s (PNN) Adopt a Night Night Package Program.

PNN, founded in 2005 by Kendra Stitt Robins, is an award-winning nonprofit organization that equips children ages 0-12 living in homeless and low-income situations with the essentials they need to prepare to learn, to feel less stressed and to be reminded of their value. Every year, PNN provides 25,000 children across the country with free Night Night packages when they arrive at a homeless shelter.

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Each of these special tote bags—which are designed to be age appropriate up to pre-teen boys and girls—contains a blanket, a book and a stuffed animal.

CWC’s four elementary schools collectively raised $3,173 through donations and fundraisers, including a student-organized family movie night and bake sale at Lincoln School; a Halloween photo booth and student-run school store at Wilson School; a Crayon “Grahams” at Washington School; and a student-run school store at Jefferson. All items sold at these events were created, designed and assembled by the ELP students.

As a culminating activity, ELP students at each school ran an assembly where they presented a slideshow, thanked the school community and showed off the PNN totes.

The ELP facilitators thanked all the CWC families who contributed to the school events and Dr. Newman from Newman Orthodontics in West Orange for his assistance in helping the ELP students to purchase the tote bags.

According to the CWC school district, the students were able to purchase enough supplies to stuff 106 tote bags this year to be delivered to homeless shelters in Essex and Bergen counties. Each tote has the required blanket, book and stuffed animal along with a bottle of shampoo, toothpaste and a toothbrush.