For more than 20 years, the Friends Enrichment Program of the Moorestown Meeting (FEP) has offered scholarships to Moorestown financially disadvantaged children. These scholarships have allowed students to attend summer camp, enroll in art classes, sports clinics, take music or dance lessons or participate in other enriching activities at no cost to their parents.
However, with COVID-19 forcing the cancellation of FEP’s two major fundraising events, the organization is in need of some support. It is currently embarking on a fundraising initiative to raise $500 by Dec. 21 so it can still provide scholarships to Moorestown youth.
Daniel Begg heads the fundraising efforts. His mother started FEP in 1997, and since then, it has provided more than 1,000 scholarships to 400 Moorestown children. The FEP recruits Moorestown students in kindergarten through 12th grade who are referred to the program by guidance counselors based on family income or individual situations.
The FEP traditionally raises money in the first six months of the year and spends most of it on summer camps. By the end of August, the remaining money in the fund is used to meet the demand for fall scholarships that usually fund ongoing music lessons for musically inclined children.
The FEP arrived at the $500 figure based on how much money it has raised in past years at two of its major annual fundraisers, which were cancelled in the spring because of the pandemic: the Music and Dance Medley and the Empty Bowl Dinner. The two events draw contributions from the public and are supplemental sources of income for the FEP.
The fall fundraiser is not intended to be the program’s main source of funds, given its revenue comes from large contributions from institutions.
Begg said this year, however, the FEP would like to offer more fall scholarships for on-site, age-appropriate activities aimed at enriching the lives of children severely affected by the pandemic. He said it is particularly important because the program’s Sunday afternoon children’s activities, a source of enrichment, are currently on hold due to COVID.
“When COVID-19 hit, so many of our lives were turned upside down, and FEP was no exception,” Begg said. “Particularly hard hit were families who were already suffering economically before the pandemic. It is more important than ever that these children have fun, structured and life-enhancing activities that give them a sense of hope and purpose.”
Begg said that in the summer, it wasn’t clear if the FEP would be able to send kids to summer camp for music or art lessons at all. Many of the camps were not able to open for the summer due to health concerns, and for some parents, especially parents with preexisting conditions, sending a child to camp seemed too high a risk.
But the FEP was able to send 12 financially disadvantaged children to one or more art camp sessions at Perkins Center for the Arts in Moorestown. Begg noted that after more than three months of physical isolation from peers and teachers in a classroom setting, children in the art camp had an opportunity to socialize.
In addition to that camp, the FEP issued scholarships to two young musicians so they could take conservatory virtual piano lessons at Perkins once their regular in-person lessons had to be discontinued.
Prior to COVID, the FEP sought volunteers to take up the mantle for Begg’s mother, who is stepping back in her capacity with the organization. He said his goal is for the FEP to grow and thrive as a program long after his 88-year-old mother is able to run it and well beyond the pandemic.
“To do this, FEP will need the continued support from generous donors throughout the community, and, when things start to get back to ‘normal,’ we will need to bring in new volunteers,” Begg said.
“I have high hopes for the future of FEP.”
To donate to the fundraiser, contact Monique Begg at (856) 235-3963 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or send a check to: Moorestown Meeting, Moorestown Friends Meeting House 118 East Main St., Moorestown, 08057.