By Amy Batista, Special Writer
CRANBURY – The students in the Cranbury School District united to help children across the world during the holidays as they donated books, old gaming systems and money to brighten someone’s day.
“I wanted to say thank you to all of you on behalf of our teachers, our parents, and students around the world,” said Principal Dr. Susan Genco, as she addressed the fifth- through eighth-grade students at the Geography Bee assembly on Monday morning.
She said that right before the holiday, the district was working on several fundraisers to help other kids in need.
“We don’t get a lot of opportunities to come together as a group to actually celebrate things like that,” she said, adding that they usually get to hear it on the announcements. “This is the perfect time and I think it connects because you did a lot of work for Ghana and Haiti. The most important thing here that I want to convey to you is thank you because those kids will be thanking you for weeks and weeks and months and months and maybe even years to come with the amount of money that we raised in such a short period of time.”
Dr. Genco asked sixth-grader Faria Majeed, who spoke about Haiti, and eighth-grader Grace Cooke, who spoke about Ghana, to provide the students with the results of the fundraisers.
The Kindness Club launched a Haiti Cookie Campaign fundraiser which was inspired by Faria to raise money for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a non-profit organization that packages, delivers and serves food to people in need last month.
“My mom showed me a video of people eating dirt cookies in a once vibrant country called Haiti,” said Faria. “Naturally, I felt much guilt because for the last 11 years of my life I have been picky about perfectly good food and wasting it.”
She said she did some research and found out that Haiti is a very poor Caribbean nation.
“Many of their people eat these dirt cookies to survive,” she said.
She said the next day she came to school with a determined face and a petition. “It was filled by the end of the school day,” she said.
Faria said that she is thrilled and thankful that the Haiti Cookie Campaign was so successful during its first year.
“Everyone who made a donation and helped us raise $2,253, we will be sending a check of Feed My Starving Children who will then be able to feed 25 schoolchildren for a year, a family of five for a year, 10 children for a month, and provide 1,000 meals to Haitians in need,” she said.
Because of that help, the Haitians will get to eat a nutritious meal instead of a dirt cookie and will have a smile on their beautiful faces, she added.
Grace said that last year at this time when her parents were discussing dates for her father to travel back to Ghana FOCOS (Foundation of Orthopedics and Complex Spine) Hospital, she asked if she could join him.
“I didn’t think they would let me, but I was inspired by all that were learning about Africa in social studies and the differences other students were making through the Kindness Club.”
She said surprisingly they were open to it and agreed to talk to her teachers and school administration to see how she could miss a week of school in May.
“Everyone agreed that I would have to bring the focus back to Cranbury School and I wanted to do that through the Kindness Club,” she said. “So I went to Ghana and I worked with the children who were recovering from spine surgery far away from home.”
She said that she noticed a need for entertainment that could be easily enjoyed while recovering.
“In talking to the leaders of FOCOS, I learned that I could help through collecting books and Nintendo DS systems,” she said.
She said when she came back we started preparing for a collection to take place in the fall.
“Within a first few days of the collection, we were overwhelmed by the amount of books we were getting let alone the amount of DS game systems that surpassed our expectations,” she said.
By the end of the week and a half, Grace had collected two Leapster game systems and 12 Leapster games for the younger patients, seven to 10 DS Nintendo game systems, more than 50 Nintendo DS cartridges and more than 480 books.
“We had so many books that we were even able to give the surplus to Queenship of St. Mary’s,” she said, adding that those books were given to the local children in need. She said that FOCOS has the donations now and she will give the packages to the patients when she goes back to Ghana in May.
By Amy Batista, Special Writer