Stafford Intermediate Students Kick Off Fundraising Effort to Help Meals on Wheels

Mar 08, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Meals on Wheels of Ocean County Executive Director James Singurdson speaks to the students of Stafford Intermediate School during the school’s Meals on Wheels fundraiser kick-off assembly March 6.

Every year, Meals on Wheels of Ocean County must raise a sizable portion of its funds to operate at full steam. During the next few months, Stafford Intermediate School students will get to provide a boost to those funds and have some fun doing it.

On Monday, March 6, Stafford Intermediate hosted Meals on Wheels Executive Director James Sigurdson and Human Resources Director Amy Hall, who were on hand to provide the nearly 600 students a glimpse into its programs, as the school’s Future Leaders Club kicked off a fundraising initiative to help the local nonprofit group.

“In the 17 years I’ve been with Meals on Wheels, this has never happened,” Sigurdson said following the assembly. “Some organizations have helped out in the past, but we’ve never had an entire school do a fundraiser for our benefit. This is going to be a lot of fun, and it’s a great idea.”

With the Future Leaders Club, advised by teacher Jaime Staub, leading the charge and organizing the internal efforts, Stafford Intermediate students will have opportunities to participate in multiple activities and initiatives for which the “fee” to participate will be $1. Two of the upcoming activities will include dances on March 10 and 17 – one each for the sixth-graders and fifth-graders, respectively.

Following the dances, students will be able to donate a dollar to participate in Dress Up as Your Favorite Character Day and the Design a Pin Contest, which also carries an “entry fee” of $1, and the winner’s design will be affixed to a pin that ultimately will be available to purchase (you guessed it) for $1. Of course, if students want to give more than a dollar as their donations to be a part of any of the upcoming events and activities, that’s OK, too.

“In our Future Leaders meetings, we brainstormed ideas for the fundraiser and tried to come up with ones that might be most effective,” said Connor Reese, a Future Leaders sixth-grader who humorously outlined the rules for the upcoming dances during Monday’s assembly. “We’re confident this is all going to work out and be a benefit for Meals on Wheels. For a lot of the students, a dollar is a reasonable donation, so it’s a win-win for everybody. And if some can give more than a dollar, we can raise even more for the cause.”

Beside students being asked to contribute special coloring pages that can be delivered with meals during the coming weeks, more fundraising activities and initiatives may come up along the way as well, Staub said. But whatever the students do and no matter how much they raise, Singurdson believes they, too, will benefit from the experience.

“The students will find that it’s real work to raise a lot of money, but what they also will realize is that their work will produce a lot of good things for the entire county,” he said. “Whether it’s $1 or $10, every student who is a part of this can feel good knowing that every single dollar is going to make a difference somehow. And even if they make life better for one individual for just a moment, that’s going to be awesome.”

Every year, Meals on Wheels treks more than 340,000 miles to deliver more than 250,000 meals to hungry and housebound seniors 60 and older in Ocean County. But Meals on Wheels also provides other services, including nutrition counseling and education, benefits screenings and limited medical transportation. However, perhaps the best service the organization provides is an intangible one.

“We don’t just deliver meals,” said Singurdson, who noted that $5,000 can provide more than 2,500 meals to every individual in the Meals on Wheels program for two days. “We deliver hope.”

And it’s the hope of Staub and her group of Future Leaders that Stafford Intermediate’s students, teachers, parents and friends come through in a big way for the benefit of those served by Meals on Wheels.

“The needs of the elderly in our community are near and dear to many of our students as they think of their grandparents’ current and future needs,” she said. “We believe many of our students can relate to this cause and will be willing to get behind it.”

Interestingly, the school next door, McKinley Avenue Elementary – also home to nearly 600 students – last fall raised some $10,000 for the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean County during its Make A Difference Week. So the Intermediate students certainly are capable of delivering big during their efforts, and both Singurdson and Hall can’t wait to see the results.

“Whatever they do, no matter how much they raise, the biggest thing their fundraising might do is raise awareness of who we are and what we do,” Hall said. “The effect these 600 students can have might be enormous because the word will spread quickly as they go home and tell their parents and friends. And often, that’s where the biggest benefit comes, when more people are aware of Meals on Wheels and how they can help us, even beyond the fundraising.

“This is going to be a huge benefit to us, for sure. We’re excited to see what happens.”

Of course, if anybody within the community wants to give a boost to the students’ efforts, checks made out to Meals on Wheels may be mailed to Stafford Intermediate School, in care of Jaime Staub, 1000 McKinley Ave., Manahawkin, N.J. 08050.

“This is about helping our community,” Staub said. “Our Future Leaders have come up with a great set of fundraising ideas, and we want this to become a big deal. And I know they’re going to do their best to make it as big as possible because helping our community is a big deal to them.”

— David Biggy

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