Barnegat Leader

Hearts of Mercy Reaching Out to Underprivileged

Dec 12, 2018

Several years ago, Barnegat Township resident Kristin Santorelli was driving through town and sensed there were people who were very much in need.

“I saw families with strollers and small children walking in the rain or snow – I was curious and wanted to know more,” she said. “One day I met families and individuals and heard their stories. I realize how thankful I am for my family, friends and all of the opportunities I have been given throughout my life, along with the help and support that was so often needed. Many of the people we are building relationships with weren’t given these privileges. They need hope.”

The result was she and her husband, Mark Santorelli, established Hearts of Mercy, in partnership with numerous faith-based and charitable organizations.

“Love, acceptance and open hearts go such a long way,” she said. “Everyone needs and deserves a second chance. With some encouragement and guidance, children can be empowered to reach their full potential. Through the mentoring, we are helping them to dream and believe in themselves. Some children are failing in school, with little guidance, which we see has led them in the wrong direction. We may be their only hope.”

Santorelli said Hearts of Mercy focuses on mentoring and tutoring youngsters from underprivileged households. People who would like to volunteer as a tutor are being sought.

In addition, the organization is helping youngsters to sign up and participate in local sports programs.

“Some children can’t get regular transportation, so it’s hard for them to go to after-school programs and other services,” she said. “We’re working on a partnership with the Barnegat (Branch of the Ocean County) Library to find available space for one-to-one tutoring.”

She said people can donate from $60 to $100 to cover the registration fee for sports, such as soccer, gymnastics, football, basketball and others.

Donations can also go toward the rental of an instrument to play in school band,” said Santorelli. “Small donations can go toward a pair of athletic shoes or a basketball they can call their own.”

The group also hosted a Christmas party at the township recreation center.

“So many generous people and sponsors came together to make the Christmas outreach very special,” said Santorelli. “We can’t do all that we do without our supporters, volunteers and partners in the community.”

Interested volunteers can call her at 908-783-0269.

— Eric Englund

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