HomeCherry Hill NewsCherry Hill Township, schools, nonprofits unite for community-wide service project

Cherry Hill Township, schools, nonprofits unite for community-wide service project

For a number of years, students at Cherry Hill High School West have participated in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project at their school. In 2014, the students made sandwiches for Cathedral Kitchen in Camden and cleaned up areas of the school.

Despite this, some students felt the Cherry Hill community could do so much more.

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“For several years, we’ve always done some kind of day of service at West,” Cherry Hill West teacher and township Councilwoman Carole Roskoph said. “But it was always isolated at West.”

One student, senior Dan Josse, went to Roskoph and suggested the community could do something more.

“Dan came to me and said ‘This just doesn’t seem to be the true spirit of what Martin Luther King Day is about,’” Roskoph said.

Josse’s simple suggestion would ultimately transform into Cherry Hill’s first township-wide day of service event.

Cherry Hill Township, Cherry Hill Public Schools and the Cherry Hill Public Library are in the process of collecting donations to go toward the American Red Cross, Mothers Matter, the Cherry Hill Food Pantry, the Camden County Animal Shelter and the library. The collection is taking place through Jan. 19. Volunteers will box and ship the donations to the benefitting organizations on that date.

To get the event off the ground, Roskoph brought the idea to the township. Megan Brown, director of recreation for Cherry Hill, said an event has been talked about for a number of years, but Roskoph helped set things in motion.

The one goal the township had in organizing the event was keeping it local so residents can directly impact people in their own community.

“We kind of talked about the local organizations in need of assistance,” Brown said. “We wanted to do something to get in touch with the community.”

To help pull off the event, the township got help from the school district and library to set up donation boxes. Boxes are located in the lobby of the Cherry Hill Public Library, Barton Elementary School, Paine Elementary School and Cherry Hill High School West. A box is also located inside the lobby of town hall.

Each organization is looking for different items. The Cherry Hill Food Pantry is collecting food such as peanut butter, pancake mix, syrup and tuna fish, while the American Red Cross is gathering toiletries such as toothpaste, mouthwash, sunblock and chapstick to donate to military personnel.

The library is pulling double-duty as a benefactor and a participant as a collection site. Donations of books, video games and DVDs will go toward the library’s collection.

Katie Hardesty, director of PR and special events for the library, said they are excited to finally participate in a day of service project.

“It’s hard for the library to get involved because it’s a day that we’re closed,” she said. “It was important for us to be involved.”

Hardesty said it’s important for the community to support all the organizations involved. She hopes more people in the community learn about groups such as Mothers Matter and the Cherry Hill Food Pantry.

“Part of it is to educate about some of these smaller nonprofits,” Hardesty said. “We’re excited and we hope to do more of this in the future.”

In addition to donations, volunteers are needed on Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All members of the Cherry Hill community are invited to Cherry Hill West to sort the collected items. The items will be put into separate boxes for each organization and transported later that day.

Residents interested in participating can pre-register at www.mlkdayofservice.org. Brown said a number of groups, businesses and individuals are already signed up to help on Jan. 19.

Roskoph said residents can make an impact on their community whether they volunteer on Jan. 19 or donate just a few items to one of the organizations. She hopes this inaugural day of service project will turn into an annual tradition in the township.

“I hope it gets bigger every year,” Roskoph said.


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