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Family creates legacy of South Brunswick teacher by donating books in her memory

The Pang family is honoring the legacy of the late Jackie Pang, a teacher in the South Brunswick School District, by donating books in her honor to each of the school libraries in the district. Pictured from left: Joe Pang, Brian and Kimberly (Pang) Torres, Matthew Pang and Christopher Pang during a dumpling fundraiser in 2020 to help raise the funds needed for the book donations.PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE PANG
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The Pang family is honoring the legacy of the late Jackie Pang, a teacher in the South Brunswick School District, by donating books in her honor to each of the school libraries in the district. Pictured from left: Joe Pang, Brian and Kimberly (Pang) Torres, Matthew Pang and Christopher Pang during a dumpling fundraiser in 2020 to help raise the funds needed for the book donations.PHOTO COURTESY OF JOE PANG

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Joe Pang and his children have already received orders for 1,500 handmade dumplings.

They began using a Chinese family recipe in mid-October to fulfill the orders by Nov. 13, which will be available for pickup at their Dayton home.

Selling at $20 for 10 dumplings, the family made $16,000 last year.

However, this is no business venture – it is a fundraising project in honor of their late wife and mother, Jackie Pang.

Jackie was diagnosed in 2017 with frontotemporal degeneration. A terminal illness that had no family history “caught us completely by surprise,” her husband Joe said.

She was forced to retire from the South Brunswick School District, where she taught kindergarten and second grade at Indian Fields and Dayton schools for 22 years.

On April 24, 2020, she passed away at home at age 64.

Since this was the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Joe Pang said the family was unable to have a viewing or a funeral. He spoke with his three children and said, “What can we do to remember Mom?”

The family had already been fundraising for the Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (AFTD), so they decided to continue fundraising, while adding a component to benefit programs in the South Brunswick School District.

Siblings Kimberly and her husband Brian Torres, Matthew Pang and Christopher Pang, along with their father Joe, created the Jackie Pang Fund.
They established the Jackie Pang New Teacher Award, which over the past 18 months has provided 58 new teachers in the school district with $200 each for their classroom expenses, Joe Pang said.
They then decided that since Jackie was a lover of books – though toward the end of her life she lost the ability to read, write, speak and swallow – they would donate one book per month to each of the school libraries in the 10 district schools. That means they would purchase at least 100 books every year.
“She always felt the library was a very important place for kids to get their hands on books,” Joe Pang said.
The Pangs have been residents of the Dayton section of South Brunswick for 37 years. All three adult children graduated from the South Brunswick school system.

“This gives us a meaningful project to do good for the students and for the staff,” Joe Pang said of the Jackie Pang Library-Builder Project. “We are building Jackie’s legacy, which was our intent.”

In order to fundraise for the library project, the Pangs decided to organize an offshoot of AFTD’s Food for Thought program and developed a website from which area residents can order homemade dumplings.

Joe and his children make the dumplings and freeze them for a one-day pickup. Last year, he estimates they made 4,000 dumplings. They cooked in their house and then used their own freezers and the freezers of neighbors to store the dumplings.

“We had a very good support system, even before the time Jackie got sick – a lot of good friends always willing to lend a hand,” he said.

They also plan to take part in AFTD’s marathon in Philadelphia on Nov. 20-21. Jackie took part in the race the first year the family participated. Now, they have about 50 people running in her honor, plus sponsorships.

“This is something very close to our hearts,” Joe Pang said.

To learn more, make a donation or order dumplings, visit www.TheJackiePangFund.org

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com

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