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Each year, members of the College’s Social Work Student Association (SWSA) conduct a service program to help local residents in need.
Last year, the students led a very successful coat drive. “This time we wanted to do something special for children 12 and younger,” said Social Work major Celsy Restituyo. After deciding on the project, the students next had to come up with an attention grabbing name.
Thanks to student Andrea Burkley, the project name was certainly the attention grabber sought: Bring a Smile to a Child.
“With the name in place we decided to focus on several specific items to collect for the children. These included educational items, attire such as hats and gloves, and, of course, toys,” said Celsy.
In November, the call went out to the entire Essex County College family and the response was overwhelming. More than 100 gift items were collected within two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, said Human & Social Services Department Professor Mary Jenkins. “This is the season of giving and it was certainly heartwarming to see everyone coming together to help make the holidays a little brighter for the children,” she said.
The donated items came from individuals, student groups and College departments. The items are ticketed to such places as the Youth Advocate Program in Newark, where Celsy is doing her internship; the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark; and the New Beginnings Faith Fellowship Ministries Church in Orange.
Professor Jenkins said some of the items will be held for distributed in January.
“We were all excited to help out in the community and it was very gratifying to see everyone at the College come together,” said Celsy.
Students Cherie Adams and Katrina Davis, stated “as new members of the SWSA, it is an honor to be a part of this wonderful organization that is willing to service the needs of the community.”