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Ray of Hope Contest, one charity receives $500, but you decide who gets it

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The Moorestown Sun’s Ray of Hope will award one of these four organizations a $500 donation! Read the essays below about each organization, and decide which you think is the most deserving of the $500 donation. Reader voting will decide the winner. To vote, send an e-mail to rayofhope@moorestownsun.com. Voting will end on Friday, May 6.

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4th of July Parade

By ESTHER CLARK

The Moorestown 4th of July Parade is more than just a parade. It is a group of local residents who volunteer their time and talents to fund and orchestrate the parade on July 4. Its main focus is to celebrate our country’s birthday.

However, there is much more.

1.) This organization sponsors a Freedom Lecture Series. This series is developed by the Constitution Center, but funded by the committee.

2.) The American Legion William Snyder Post 42 is an active participant. It invites veterans who have served and are currently serving to ride in the parade.

3.) Volunteers also create a float for entry in the Christmas Parade.

4.) Finally, the educational component chairs a Freedom Poster Contest for children.

A young boy, riding his bike after the first parade, was heard asking his companion this question: Do you know why we’re having a parade today?

This sparked the annual Poster Contest. Each year, a theme is assigned to the parade. This year’s theme is: Stars & Stripes. Its purpose is to engage elementary students to create a poster that reflects an aspect of this topic. The top three winners earn a special place of honor riding in the parade.

What is best about this parade?

First, Moorestown residents are the participants. Non-profits, local businesses, families and neighbors march together dressed in their red, white and blue. The festive atmosphere is accelerated by viewing pets wearing Uncle Sam colors, too.

Secondly, our community is what it is because of the sacrifices made by our citizens. The parade celebrates the freedoms we hold dear and unites us on this one day.

Lastly, the committee sponsors fundraisers, but they are not enough to cover the $10,000 cost for the parade. A web site, www.moorestownjuly4thparade. com, shares event pictures and accepts donations as a 501(c3). The prize offered by this contest would greatly help this organization.

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Girl Scout Troop 22169

By KARLA PETERSON

In the first grade, I joined Moorestown Girl Scout Troop 22169, a local Brownie troop based out of Roberts Elementary. Now, nearly a decade later, I’m still a member of this same troop, which has since risen through the ranks of Girl Scouting.

From Brownies to Juniors, Juniors to Cadets, Cadets to Seniors (with some ambassadors thrown in, too), our members have changed. We are older now. Our members are not only from just Moorestown High School, but also Moorestown Friends School.

As we have aged and matured, we have done countless projects for the environment — from no-idling campaigns, to plastic water bottle awareness, learning about invasive and native species, and learning about remediation and contaminated soil in our own town. We have worked with younger generations of Girl Scouts, educating them about Girl Scout traditions and cookie sale techniques. On the subject of cookie selling; selling is not just about fundraising, but also about business skills. Selling cookies has taught us money management, and financial skills, marketing and business experience that we would never have experienced otherwise.

Through community service, environmental work and cookie sales, Troop 22169 has constantly provided girls with new experiences and challenges, filled with learning and discovery about ourselves and others. Instilled with confidence, I firmly believe that we can do anything.

This summer, we’re putting together a trip to a Girl Scout Camp in Iceland. The trip will take place at the end of August. There, we’ll learn about the environment and geothermal concepts, we’ll ride the native ponies, hike glaciers and volcanoes. It will be a trip of a lifetime for us who seem to have spent a lifetime together.

We’ve grown up together; we’ve seen each other build strength and skills. Hopefully now we’ll get to see Rejkuik. Our fearless leaders, Denise Mahoney and Sara Lilja, have inspired us to reach our fullest potential. They’ve demanded much of us over the years, constantly challenging us to always to our best and accepting nothing less.

Pushing us to reach ambitious goals has been fruitful; adventure and opportunity have been accomplished by hard work. Countless cookie sales and fundraisers have made other trips possible and will make Iceland possible, too, though $500 wouldn’t hurt!

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Percheron Park

By MARGO M. FOSTER

In 1839, Moorestown native Edward Harris II (1799–1863) introduced Percheron horses to America from France to improve the work horses here. His foresighted action had a nationwide impact on farming and transport in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Percherons, referred to as diligence (stagecoach) horses, were developed in the ancient region of le Perche and possessed the strength, stamina, speed and calm temperament suited for farm and road work. Harris showcased their superb qualities with Diligence, his dapple-gray stallion. Soon, other men followed his lead and imported and bred more. By 1930, Percheron horses outnumbered the other draft breeds in the USA by three-to-one, before the combustion engine outplaced live horsepower.

Farmers and teamsters across America held their Percherons in high regard. In 1892, the publisher of a midwestern farm journal shared the suggestion that Harris should have “an equestrian monument as the first man to introduce the [Percheron] Draft Horse to America.”

Percheron Park will feature that iconic monument.

In 2006, a Moorestown citizens’ committee sought ideas for creating interest in the town center. A proposal to install a life-sized, bronze statue of Diligence found a place when the township purchased the property at Main and High streets to create a “pocket park.” Soon dubbed Percheron Park, it was ready to provide its impact on Moorestown.

The Friends of Percheron Park was formed in 2011 as a 501©(3) non-profit corporation to raise funds to build the park. Although the community has donated generously, more funding is needed. Soil remediation on this site of a former gas station is taking longer than predicted, causing a delay in construction and donations. Support from the Ray of Hope award will provide financial impact and a morale boost that will spur enthusiastic commitment from the town.

Further information is available at www.percheronpark.org.

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Project Graduation

By DANA YOUNG

They are graduating high school, moving on to who knows what new adventures, and Project Graduation wants to give them one last hoorah! They walk off the high school stadium field and quickly change and get shuttled onto buses that will parade down Main Street as they leave town, to destinations unknown to spend the rest of the night into the wee hours of the morning celebrating together as a class.

Here is where the need comes in. It is all funded by donations to make this an unforgettable night for these “kids.” A group of parent volunteers has “designed” a night full of activities to keep them safe from drinking and maybe making some unwise choices that night. There have been arcades, aquariums, dancing, just to name a few things done in years past.

Then there are the “giveaways,” a whole different set of donated items to offer as winning tickets are drawn throughout the night. It is sponsored by local businesses and families.

So here are the parents running this program, out there asking, if not begging, for the community to support these kids and give them an unforgettable evening.

It is estimated that it costs $150 per student to run the event. Parents of the students and every other parent in town receive a letter requesting a small donation. There is nothing wrong with that, but I will say, as a parent of a senior, this is an expensive year. There are senior portraits, cap and gown, yearbooks, senior trip, college applications … and the list goes on.

So as we celebrate their accomplishments, we keep on doing what it takes to get them where they are going. But maybe organizations such as the Ray of Hope can ease some of the expense.

There is no better way to congratulate the class of 2016 than by voting for it to win this $500 opportunity!

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