FutureAct Club finds new way to help families in need

Group will host more fundraisers in the coming months

The Washington Township Public School FutureAct Club is holding a craft fundraiser to collect money for the annual Gobble Up Hunger event, which looks very different due to COVID-19.

“The biggest thing we take on is Gobble up Hunger,” said Bunker Hill Middle School FutureAct advisor Heather Finn. “We collect thousands of canned goods and turkeys … Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a wrench in that this year.”

Gobble Up Hunger usually consists of collected canned-food items placed in baskets and delivered to families in need. This year, any food collected must be cleaned and quarantined for 14 days before distribution.

As a result, FutureAct has decided to raise money to buy fruits, vegetables and sides and have The Estate at Monroe cook Thanksgiving meals for around 200 families in need. They will be prepared the day before Thanksgiving and distributed to families throughout the township school district.

“We do community-service projects throughout the year and we try to do as many district-wide projects,” Finn noted. “Basically, our job is to bring the community together.

The FutureAct Club has branches in all three district middle schools:   Orchard Valley, Bunker Hill and Chestnut Ridge. It welcomes over 100 kids who come together to work on community-service projects, earn community-service hours and bring the community together.

To involve students in Gobble Up Hunger, advisors normally give them shopping lists to pick out items set up in the school cafeteria. The kids then place the items in Thanksgiving baskets for needy families.

Since that’s impossible this year, advisors found another way to keep  students involved: Students will pick up a small bag from the cafeteria with a take-home craft inside that they will put together and distribute  with the Thanksgiving meals.

“On Nov. 18, (the clubs) are going to do a Zoom meeting (to) make the craft together,” Finn explained. “This will go with the meals and just put a little smile on someone’s face and help get the kids involved.”

The craft consists of a wooden HOME sign that includes four interchangeable holiday decorations. The kits cost $50 each, and more holiday pieces can be purchased for an additional $4.

After purchasing a craft, participants can also sign up for a live Zoom workshop with Nicole Lannutti, owner of The Craft Room, who will show everyone how to put the crafts together. Those who don’t want  to participate in the Zoom workshop can find directions included with the craft purchase.

The FutureAct Club has only sold a handful of crafts and seeks more participants to reach a goal of $500.

“They just sent out the reminder last week,” Finn said. “We only have four sold right now … It will go all the way up to the week before Thanksgiving, so I am hoping we can get a push going for it.”

The club also held a virtual Halloween Trivia night where about 30 families participated and six prizes were distributed to the winners.

“We are hopefully going to do a bunch more this year,” Finn added. “We got awesome feedback about it, so we are going to try to do a bunch more virtual trivia nights.”

The club also looks forward to its annual Giving Tree event, when   students receive an ornament with the gender and age of a child in need. The students then take time to shop for that child and provide  gifts on Christmas.

To donate or participate in FutureAct fundraisers, contact Heather Finn at HFinn@wtps.org , Madeline Kubik at MKubik@wtps.org or Kim Hinrichs at KHinrichs@wtps.org.