Shawnee students conduct school-wide project to benefit New Jersey Division of Children and…

Shawnee students conduct school-wide project to benefit New Jersey Division of Children and Families

Through hard work and dedication to the project, Shawnee raised enough money to purchase 315 “Sweet Cases.”

For the past year, students and staff at Shawnee High School have been working on a school-wide charity project related to their 2016–2017 One Book One School Summer Reading assignment, The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. The story centers around an orphan who longs for a family to call his own and his fears of one day being alone in the world.

The school-wide project focused on trying to help and comfort kids transitioning into foster care. The funds the school raised through postcard donations, bake goods and pretzel sales, jeans’ days, passing the hat at plays and events, and soliciting donations from families, friends and businesses were used to purchase suitcases called Sweet Cases from an organization called Together We Rise. Together We Rise was started by young adults who wanted to change the way children experience foster care in the U.S. Children entering foster care or moving within the system are often given trash bags in which to gather their few, if any, belongings. The cases, stuffed with a blanket, teddy bear, toys and toiletries, provide a sense of comfort, normalcy and worth to kids facing an often uncertain future.

The school’s initial goal was to raise enough funds from September to December to purchase 100 Sweet Cases. Through hard work and dedication to the project, Shawnee raised enough money to purchase 315 Sweet Cases. Once the bags were delivered, students spent months personalizing and decorating the front of the bags with painted art work. Additionally, they created 4000 handmade cards (10–12 cards per bag!) to provide words of comfort and support to the children. Finally, each bag received a handmade luggage tag with more words of encouragement. One hundred fifty bags were donated to Oaks integrated Care who provides services to local families in need. The remaining 165 bags will be given later this month to the New Jersey Division of Children and Families for distribution to foster kids in Burlington and Camden counties.