Washington Township Public Schools have received more than 70 backpacks and lunchboxes from the Gloucester County Women’s Club to help start off the school year right.
The club purchases the backpacks and lunch boxes in bulk from a supplier and the women volunteer to buy school necessities like crayons, pens, pencils and glue sticks. This year, the provider was able to donate pre-packaged kits with supplies that enabled the club to offer items other than the usual, such as ice packs for lunches and hand sanitizer.
“This goes back to before I joined in 2015, but it’s an annual thing,” said club President Mary Schneider. “Some schools are swamped with bags. I usually take them and drop them off at Thomas Jefferson School, because they know what families need them.”
The Gloucester County Women’s Club is a nonprofit that was organized 27 years ago. The club brings women together through fundraisers and raffles to earn money and give back to the community. There are now eight districts throughout the state, with more than 1,000 women serving a large portion of South Jersey.
”The club started out as Clearview Wenonah Junior Women’s Club in 1993 and changed their name in 2013 to the Gloucester County Women’s Club,” Schneider said. “We have young women to older women in our club … We do a lot of volunteer things in our communities. We do state projects,”
The club usually holds two annual raffle fundraisers: The first is held at the annual Spring Craft Fair in Washington Township and the second is Super Saturday in Washington Township. Due to COVID-19, the latter event was canceled, so the club had to come up with something new.
“We did a huge fundraiser this year during the summer time. It was a community-wide clothing drive through Bargain Thrift in Philadelphia,” Schneider said. “For every pound of clothing we earned 20 cents. We collected 8,822 pounds of not only clothing but household dishes and picture frames.
“The community was fabulous. We had a check for a little over $1,700, which really helped with our budgets.”
The money earned through fundraisers allows the club to give back to the community in different ways. Each year, it has an Adopt the Family program, where club members choose families in need and purchase gifts and necessities for them. They also buy food for the Mother’s Cupboard Food Pantry in Washington Township and provide scholarships to township high school seniors that cite outstanding community service.
The women’s club not only provides the community with monetary donations but also donates members’ time. Operation Chill Out was the group’s state project this year, and club members collected cases of water, hats and T-shirts.. These donations are then handed out homeless veterans throughout New Jersey.
The Ronald McDonald House in Camden is another organization that benefits from the women’s work. The club delivers hot meals there and collects soda tabs and printer cartridges so the charity can exchange them for money.
While the club’s main purpose is to help the communities it serves, the women also gather socially with friends new and old.
“We have a wonderful membership. We publish a newsletter, and it’s really a great group of women,” Schneider noted. “The women consider it something for themselves, the ability to get out and meet other women and exchange ideas.”
The club is open to women age 18 and older who want to volunteer. Anyone interested can reach the club at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit its website, www.glocowomensclub.org.