By Clare Marie Celano
FREEHOLD – When National Junior Honor Society students from Freehold Borough volunteered to participate in a charities seminar sponsored by the Freehold Borough Educational Foundation, they were able to directly and positively affect the charity of their choice, according to Jean Holtz, who chairs the foundation.
Holtz said the students learned about the importance of charitable organizations and how those organizations help the communities they serve.
“Seven students participated in the program over four months,” Holtz said. “They volunteered to participate, which included research, phone calls, site visits and grant writing. The skills the students learned through this program are priceless. Not only did they learn about nonprofits and grant writing, but through this program their self-esteem and confidence were boosted and their appreciation of the work of nonprofits was strengthened.”
As a result of the students’ hard work on this endeavor, the foundation’s trustees voted to award a $500 grant to a charity selected by each student.
“Those funds were made possible by a grant recommended by Barry Tobias of Manalapan through the New York Community Trust,” Holtz said. “We are extremely grateful to Mr. Tobias and the trust for partnering with the foundation on this valuable life lesson for our students.”
Holtz said this was the third year the foundation sponsored a charities seminar for eighth-graders who are members of the National Junior Honor Society at the Freehold Intermediate School.
Superintendent of Schools Rocco Tomazic said the students have learned important new skills through the program while displaying the best in civic service.
“For the third year in a row, we have been both surprised and gratified with the work of our eighth-graders to learn about philanthropy and to work for the benefit of local charities,” he said.
Holtz added, “The students enjoyed a unique experience, gaining the opportunity to learn about the workings of nonprofit organizations … The charitable entities that were selected (by the students) each received a grant to help community residents in need. A most definite win-win.”
Freehold Intermediate School Principal Ronnie Dougherty said it was inspiring to watch the students as they learned what it means to be charitable.
“These remarkable students put a great deal of thought and research into choosing a charitable organization that resonated with their own personal experiences,” Dougherty said. “It was impressive to watch their journey as they made their first contact with their organization, up to presenting their final proposal after writing their grant. We were all so proud of them, but most important the students were proud. They felt a sense of accomplishment in learning new skills and gratified to know they had become a part of helping their community.”
Claudia Bopp, 14, chose the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation as her charity. Her grant provided a financial contribution toward the purchase of a Giraffe incubator and warmer.
Renata Ceppi, 14, selected “Homes for All” in Toms River as her charity. Her grant provided a contribution to the “Hands for All” program within the nonprofit agency to assist constituents in making emergency repairs.
Joseph LoCurcio, 14, chose Freehold Open Door as his charity. His grant provided a contribution to underwrite the purchase of chicken and fish for a 15-day period.
Emily Contract, 14, selected Celtic Charms and used her grant to make a financial contribution for feed and general horse care supplies.
Molly Loprete, 14, chose the Monmouth County SPCA as her charity and her grant provided a contribution to fund general operating costs.
Candace Patrick, 13, selected Monmouth Conservancy Support for the Felix Molzer Scholarship Fund, providing outreach programs for individuals without the financial ability to pay for music lessons.
Melanie Feliciano, 14, chose Parents of Autistic Children Autism Services for her charity. Her grant was used for training supplies and events.