The first month of school is officially in the books. Students and teachers are hard at work now, and it’s no different for the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, an organization committed to ensuring Cherry Hill students have the tools they need to succeed.
CHEF is collecting used musical instruments for distribution to low-income families in elementary schools. It’s also overhauled its grant program this year and is looking forward to seeing how teachers use the money.
Eleanor Stofman, president of the Cherry Hill Education Foundation, said, in 2012, a few of the public schools’ elementary teachers approached CHEF about a need to provide students in low-income families with instruments. They were seeing children who wanted to play an instrument, but it just wasn’t something their families could afford to rent or buy.
Stofman said social media wasn’t nearly as popular then as it is now, so they sent emails through the Parent Teacher Association and through school announcements. CHEF members met at the Cherry Hill East auditorium, and they were overwhelmed by the response.
Parents, guardians and residents were eager to haul the instruments that were gathering dust in their homes out of storage to give to a good cause. CHEF partnered with an organization that cleans and repairs musical instruments that offered to do so at no cost.
“It was an overwhelming success,” Stofman said.
Since then, they’ve collected instruments on a rolling basis, but they haven’t held any formal second collection. But now, with social media, they’re getting the word out that the need is there again.
“We’re happy to be part of it – to put the word out again explaining that we’re welcoming anyone who would to [donate],” Stofman said.
The specific instruments requested by the instrumental music teachers include violins, violas, cellos, saxophones, drum kits, drums, drum pads, small sets of orchestra bells, alto saxophones, flutes, hi-hat cymbals, clarinets, trumpets, trombones, baritones, percussion and bass.
Residents are encouraged to drop off their used musical instruments at the Malberg Administration Building in care of Linda King. Donations are 100 percent tax deductible.
Once the instruments are collected, the instrumental music teachers have seen to it that the instruments wind up in the right hands.
Stofman said they don’t have a specific goal in mind. She said their mission is simply to support education in all its forms, and the arts and music are part of that. Giving students that early start with their music education is a perfect example of the work they’re trying to accomplish.
In addition to the ongoing instrument collection efforts, CHEF is also currently issuing in changes to its grant program, Stofman said. Each year, CHEF is flooded with hundreds of grant requests from teachers who are looking to make an impact. Stofman said they agonized over which to choose, so this year they decided to shake things up.
Every school in the district is receiving a flat $3,500 donation from CHEF. The principal will meet with staff to decide how they’d like to use these funds, and each principal, in turn, has to submit their plan to the superintendent. The deadline for principals to finalize and submit their staff’s plan is Oct. 15.
“It seems to be very well-received,” Stofman said. “We’re excited to find out how they’re going to use it.”
Anyone with questions can call the Cherry Hill Education Foundation at (856) 428-7585. To learn more, visit http://cherryhilleducationfoundation.com.