The NJEA Pride in Public Education Program provides grants to local and county education associations to plan events that bring communities and schools together. In the midst of the global pandemic, social distancing practices have led to the cancellation of nearly all Pride-funded events.

Undaunted, local and county associations throughout the state repurposed the funds to serve their communities, feed and protect those on the front lines of the pandemic, partner with community- and faith-based charities, and support local businesses in the process. Here are many of the Pride grant stories that associations shared thorough the “Share your Story” link at njeatogether.org.

The Bayonne Teachers’ Association helped those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through Pride grants, BTA donated food to the emergency room staff at CarePoint Health/Bayonne Medical Center, McCabe Ambulance Service, the Bayonne Police Department and the Bayonne Fire Department. BTA also sponsored food distributions at Meals on Wheels (Bayonne Economic Opportunity Foundation) and the VFW Post 226.

The Burlington County Education Association provided meals for over 400 workers at the Virtua Hospital in Willingboro, including all staff in the intensive care unit, the emergency room, two COVID units and housekeeping. Hoagie and wrap trays, pasta salad, Caesar salad, pizza, and cannolis were prepared and delivered by Vincenzo’s, a restaurant in Willingboro. Two deliveries were made, one for each 12-hour shift. Alesa, a staff member at Virtua, coordinated the delivery and took the pictures.

The Cape May County Education Association donated sandwich and dessert trays to Cape Regional Medical Center. Trays were provided by a local sandwich shop in Cape May Court House. CMCEA also reached out to every food bank and pantry in the county. As a result, 16 food banks were sent a monetary donation to help them replenish their shelves. One of the food banks, Green Creek Bethel United Methodist Church, provides food backpacks for local students each weekend.

The Cinnaminson Education Association provided lunches from Georgetti’s Italian Market for health care workers at Cooper Urgent Care, Med Express, and Wynwood Rehabilitation and Care Center.

The Clifton Education Association used its Pride funds to say thank to you to the community’s front-line workers. President Lori Lalama and Pride Chair Martha Andrea Orrok worked with Corrado’s Market to deliver meals to these essential workers. On April 21, the first round of meals was sent to the Clifton Police Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and all six firehouses in the city of Clifton. Lunch and dinner was also provided to the staff members at St. Mary’s General Hospital in Passaic. CEA also collaborated with the Wayne Education Association to provide iPads to the Preakness Healthcare Center, so families can connect to their loved ones.

The Cranford Education Association provided dinner for the Cranford Police Department, Fire Department, and First Aid Squad.  The Pride grant enabled Cranford’s educational support staff and teachers to support community restaurants. The CEA has secured a number of Pride grants over the years that have allowed them to support the local community and school events including an annual donation to Cranford Project Graduation.

The Cumberland County Council of Education Associations made a donation to the Millville Child Family Center Food Pantry. With help from Millville Education Association members, the center distributes food to Cumberland County families twice a month. Each bag of food contains a recipe, a personal positive note, and hope.

Delsea Education Association, Delsea Transportation Association, Elk Township Education Association, Township of Franklinville Education Association, and Township of Franklinville Support Staff Association worked together to deliver care packages to 380 families in need within the districts.

The East Greenwich Education Association carried out several Pride-funded initiatives. The association helped local food pantries youth service centers, donating nonperishable items to community members in need. EGEA also donated board games and activities to the youth homes to keep children occupied during the quarantine. In another project, EGEA thanked local heroes, donating lunches to the East Greenwich Police Department, the East Greenwich Fire Department, and the Mullica Hill Inspira Hospital Emergency Room and Step-Down Unit. EGEA members also delivered treats to the East Greenwich Post Office and Home and School Committee.

The Elizabeth Education Association partnered with several local restaurants and businesses to help community organizations provide over 750 grab-and-go meals and fill food pantries throughout the city of Elizabeth. Using its Pride grants, EEA organized the first Grab-and-Go at the Glorious Hope Missionary Baptist Church, in the city’s Elizabethport section. Nearly two hundred meals, along with personal essentials and pantry items, donated by the church were distributed to area residents by church volunteers. Two weeks later, EEA partnered with the church to provide a second Grab-and-Go. This was followed by a Grab-and-Go at Christ Fellowship Church in Midtown. EEA also partnered with New Life Direction, a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth in the city’s Bayway section. Volunteers from New Life Direction delivered 150 complete meals to the families of youths they mentor and area residents. Lastly, the EEA was asked by St. Joseph’s Service Center to help supply families with basic food needs. With Pride funding, EEA purchased and donated over $400-worth of nonperishable items to help stock St. Joseph’s Service Center pantry.

The Frankford Township Education Association created self-care packages for health care workers at Newton Memorial Hospital and Morristown Medical Center. Each hospital received 100 self-care items in canvas “Thank You” bags that contained locally made lip balm and lotion, locally made hand sanitizer, Life Savers candy, and a thank you note. FTEA also delivered several trays of freshly baked goods and boxes of brewed coffee from local bakeries, including a thank you card to each hospital with the breakfast trays.

The Gloucester County Education Association delivered food and school supplies to the two Boys and Girls Club locations in the county. GCEA delivered 40 boxes of food, loaded with eggs, milk, bread, peanut butter, cereal, and more for distribution to the students and families of the Glassboro Boys and Girls Club. GCEA also delivered school supplies to the 90 students who typically attend Paulsboro Boys and Girls Club activities.

Through the generous donations of its members, the Hackettstown Education Association sponsored 100 meals for essential workers at Hackettstown Medical Center. Soups on Main and Enjoy! Creperie made delicious soups and crepes for workers to enjoy and to fuel their important tasks.

The members of the Holmdel Township Education Association donated $1,000 to show appreciation for hospital workers treating COVID-19 patients at Bayshore Hospital. During their lunch breaks on April 15, HTEA members delivered cupcakes from Confections of a Rock$tar to the hospital workers. Confections of a Rock$tar is an Asbury Park bakery that has been temporarily closed during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Long Branch School Employees Association member Karina McIntyre and her spouse are working with Cafe Amici to deliver meals directly to hospitals throughout the area. They raised $1,000 to help fund the meals and are personally delivering them.

The Mercer County Education Association used Pride grant money to purchase 1,600 potted pansies. MCEA members, students, community volunteers and the mayor of Hamilton Township packaged and delivered them over three days to eight nursing and assisted living facilities throughout Mercer County. The delivery brought a splash of color and a feeling of appreciation to the residents and to all the employees. Two small businesses, Tony’s Farm Market and Triangle Copy, received much needed business.

The Monmouth Beach Teachers Association proudly partnered with the Front-Line Appreciation Group of Oceanport and Monmouth Beach and Bagel Masters, a locally owned and operated bagel and sandwich shop, to donate 50 lunches to health care workers at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, funded through a Pride grant from NJEA.

The Montclair Education Association reallocated nearly $10,000 in Pride grant money that was originally for the funding of student and community events this school year, to COVID-19 first responders, including two Hackensack Medical Center Foundation needs: iPads for quarantined patients to communicate with loved ones, and daycare for children of healthcare workers; grab-and-go lunches for Montclair firefighters and the Montclair ambulance unit emergency medical technicians; and masks for the Montclair police department.

The Morris County Retirees Education Association Executive Board says, “We are home, we are retired, but we are working hard to support and keep New Jerseys School’s #1! We congratulate all our active teachers and educational support professionals for the phenomenal job they are doing with online teaching and giving our children and the academic and emotional support that they need during this time of crisis. We also thank all of our health professionals for all they are doing to keep us safe.”

The Mullica Township Education Association supported its essential community partners: the Mullica Township Police Department, Department of Public Works and Mullica Township employees during the coronavirus pandemic. From the Little Water Distillery in Atlantic City, MTEA obtained spray hand sanitizer for every Mullica Township employee and two gallons for refills. MTEA also donated several boxes of gloves.

The Palisades Park Education Association sponsored Our Community Dinner Table, a local nonprofit. This organization’s goal is twofold: to provide meals to those residents who are in dire need because of the COVID‐19 pandemic and to support locally owned restaurants in the process. PEA used its Pride funding to donate $1,500 to Our Community Dinner Table, all of which will be used to feed the most vulnerable in the community and support local restaurants. In addition, PPEA members have volunteered to assist in handing out meals with Our Community Dinner Table.

The Education Association of Passaic Pride Committee showed its gratitude to first responders of the Passaic police and fire departments by providing essential supplies such as masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer. EAP also provided lunch for the Passaic police department and essential workers at the St. Mary’s General Hospital of Passaic. The Tropical Juice Bar Restaurant of Passaic provided hot, boxed lunches for the workers. The second phase of EAP’s COVID-19 project is providing families with nonperishable food items. EAP members are handing out bags in conjunction with the district’s breakfast and lunch program located at several schools in the city. The bags are being provided by the Cuellar ShopRite of Passaic, which is generously matching EAP’s donation of food items to help keep families fed.

Michelle Mistichelli, school nurse at Pennsville Middle School and member of the Pennsville Education Association Negotiations Team, was spotlighted by the Salem County government for volunteering to help with COVID-19 testing in Salem County.

The Rutherford Education Association has completed four Pride projects to benefit front-line workers who have been tirelessly giving their time and talents during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to help those in the community who have been affected. On April 27, the association provided lunch and dinner to the officers on duty at the Rutherford police department. These meals were provided by Jim Dandy’s and Ferazzoli’s. On Wednesday, the association purchased 60 meals from Matera’s on Park, which were delivered to the emergency room staff at Hackensack University Medical Center. On May 4, 225 meals were purchased from The Risotto House, which were delivered to the COVID-19 floor staff at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck. Finally, the association is donated $670 to the Rutherford Community Food Pantry to be used to buy supplies for those in need.

The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Education Association sent water, energy bars, coffee and cookies to Overlook Hospital. Additionally, SPFEA members went to the hospital with fresh coffee and doughnuts for health care workers, many of who are parents of students in Scotch Plans and Fanwood. SPFEA member Reyna Martoccia made homemade masks for residents and staff at the Chelsea at Fanwood, a center for assisted living. SPFEA’s next project is to get produce from local farms to local food banks.

 

Members of the Ventnor City Education Association and the Ventnor Supportive Staff Association teamed up with district administrators to create a video to share with students and their families to show them how much they miss them. They hope the video demonstrates how much they believe in students and that no matter how far apart they are, Ventnor school staff will always be there to support, encourage and guide them.

The Wayne Education Association, the Wayne Custodial Maintenance Association, and the Wayne Special Education Aides Association partnered to assist those combating the COVID-19 virus. Together, they pooled a $30,000 NJEA Pride grant to work with the school district, the mayor, county government and other community stakeholders. Through the grants, they provided Wayne’s students and families with the tools to stay healthy and safe. They also found ways to say thank you to the first responders and medical professionals, providing meals to 135 front line staff members at St. Joseph’s Wayne Medical Centers in Wayne.

The West Windsor-Plainsboro Education Association reallocated its Pride grant for several activities. First, WWPEA members wrote notes that went home in the food boxes of students participating free or reduced-price meal program. Next, WWPEA members sent light-up yo-yos home in the food boxes. WWPEA also put up 120 lawn signs throughout the school district to let students know that everyone from school missed them and wanted them to stay safe. WWPEA also thanked community first responders and medical heroes with lawn signs.

Parades can often lead to crowded sidewalks that risk a lack of social distancing, so Westampton Education Association members participated in a reverse parade. Westhampton school employees parked in the school parking lots and families drove around the lot to see all of the staff. It was an exciting day with lots of signs, smiles, air hugs, and love! The PTO celebrated the staff by giving each member a pizza to take home for their families.

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