It can be hard to find a bright spot in the midst of COVID-19, but, thanks to the eighth graders at All Saints Episcopal Day School in Hoboken, just after Hoboken University Medical Center reported zero Coronavirus patients last week, the Mile Square has something else to celebrate: the students donated $10,000 to the Hoboken Relief Fund this week — from their canceled field trip.
Why Did 8th Graders Have $10K to Give Away?
To answer that, we have to journey back to fourth grade, when this group of students starting raising funds to partially cover the costs of their trip to South America, part of All Saints’ Ecuador Exchange Program. Here’s how it works: for 10 days students from Ecuador visit All Saints and stay with students and their families. Then, usually in May, the All Saints eighth graders travel to Ecuador to attend school, live with their Ecuadorian peers’ families, and perform service projects.
“They look forward to this for years and start fundraising in fourth grade,” said eight grade teacher Erin Moran. From managing Pizza Fridays to offering free babysitting to local parents each week for Parents’ Night Out, there’s no shortage of activities for students to engage in to raise money. And the result of their hard work was $10,000 to put towards their exchange program expenses.
The Decision to Donate
COVID-19 and social distancing and travel regulations put a hitch in the plan. So, the students pow-wowed with Head of School Jill Singleton in June and came to a decision as to how to spend the money. “They said immediately, ‘We want to give it back to charity,'” Ms. Moran marveled. “There was some discussion and a lot of research. When someone mentioned Hoboken Relief Fund, they all got behind it right away.”
“We know people are struggling because of COVID-19,” explained Mara Reba, a member of the Class of 2020. “The Hoboken Relief Fund was the best choice for us because it directly supports the Hoboken community.”
“Hoboken has given us so much over the years and helped us grow,” shared Lucas Laine, a 2020 graduate. “Donating this money is the least we could do.”
An Act of Service
Every eight grade class matures, of course, Ms. Moran explained, “but this group has especially.”
“They lost out on eighth grade. They didn’t have an in-person graduation, their year-end trip to an outdoor water park, the trip to Ecuador, but they took it in stride and we couldn’t be prouder of them,” she said.
But the students’ act of kindness doesn’t come as much of a surprise, Moran noted. “Service is a big part of All Saints. It’s what we’re known for in the community. They’ve been doing service their whole lives and it made sense to them to give the money back [to Hoboken].”
So at noon on Wednesday, July 22nd, eighth graders presented the money to Hoboken Relief Fund Chairs, Councilman Phil Cohen and Councilwoman Jen Giattino in a small ceremony in front of the school. “We’ve gotten bigger checks,” the Councilman said, “but this one touched us in a way that was just extraordinary.”
“It says so much about who these kids are, what their values are, and what a great education and experience they’ve gotten at All Saints.” Losing out on their service trip “must have been an awful disappointment” that they turned into a beautiful story, Councilman Cohen remarked.
About Hoboken Relief Fund
According to Councilman Cohen, “The fund was designed to help those individuals and businesses who lost income or were adversely affected by COVID-19. There are so many of them locally that are the heart of our community and we want them to come back. We want them to be part of this community when this horrible chapter ends.”
Now, thanks to a little help from an inspiring group of teenagers, that hope looks a little more probable.
To learn more and donate to Hoboken Relief Fund, visit the Fund website.
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