WESTFIELD, NJ — More than 100 of New Jersey’s high school students served their communities this Saturday as part of the YMCA Civic Engagement Youth & Government program’s Day of Service. For a small group of students in the Westfield area, this meant volunteering with the Paul Jackson Fund, a charitable organization headquartered in Westfield.

The Paul Jackson Fund is dedicated to aiding families across New Jersey in financial need due to illness or disability both financially and emotionally.  It partners with businesses in the area in order to allow its volunteers to spread the word about the organization’s mission.

“On behalf of the Paul Jackson fund, we bagged groceries at ShopRite,” said Andrew Zale, one of the program’s officers. “While bagging for patrons, we talked to people about the Paul Jackson Fund and raised donations through this medium.”

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Through the Day of Service, students are able to see the benefits of what the program calls “servant-leadership." The program caters to students who realize that public service extends far beyond the three-day conference during which more than 500 delegates simulate New Jersey’s governmental process.

“I feel so grateful to be afforded such great health and a wealth of opportunities here in Westfield that I also believe giving back to the community is important,” said Zale. “Being able to hang out with great friends from the YMCA programs while helping the community in an engaging way is really fun.”

For the last two years, the YMCACE’s Day of Service has provided this valuable link between hundreds of students and their communities. These students collectively have logged thousands of volunteer hours in the process. They will have the chance to serve together again on March 28. The program’s culminating conference occurs between April 24 and April 28. 

Jorge Ledesma is a senior at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.