Township ROTC members earn community cleanup grant

Students cleared more than 1,300 pounds of leaves at Veterans Park

A group of 23 AFJROTC students spent their Halloween cleaning up Veterans Park in Washington Township. The group collected over 1,300 pounds of leaves and earned a $500 grant from the Gloucester County Improvement Authority.

The Washington Township Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFJROTC) cleaned Veteran’s Park on Halloween and earned a grant from the Gloucester County Improvement Authority (GCIA) Community Cleanup program. 

The 4th annual cleanup involved 23 students who collected over 1,300 pounds of leaves. The event is held every year to get the park ready for Veterans Day.

“The goal of ROTC is to develop citizens of good moral character,” said Beth Ann Lumpkin, AFJROTC senior aerospace science Instructor. “It’s really about community; the park cleanup really ties into what we want to do.

“Usually, the GCIA will tell you what area to clean up,” she added. “Since we have been doing it for four years, we requested to do Veterans Park.”

The cadets’ cleanup made their program eligible for a $500 grant from the GCIA Community CleanUp program, which provides a grant to any nonprofit that volunteers to clean up a park or other site. The GCIA provides equipment that includes gloves and rakes.

This year’s grant money will help pay for face masks created by the AFJROTC that were free to students. The masks were bought and distributed early in the year and were adorned with the title NJ932 Air Force JROTC. The cost for the masks was around $800. 

“It was a win-win for us because kids got a mask and we cleaned up the park,” Lumpkin said.

The ROTC is made up of 151 students from freshmen to seniors who participate in academics, from airspace science to leadership education and life skills. The program also offers wellness courses that include mile runs and other types of exercise. The cadets in the program participate in events that include football games to Back to School night. 

According to Lumpkin, there is a misconception that people need to join the military after participation in ROTC, but only 7 percent do so. From 30 to 40 students stay with the program for all four years.

“It is a great course, because it is about life skills that you are giving students,” Lumpkin added. “We are very lucky to have such great students in this course,  because they really do make a difference.”