Camden Street School Principal Sam Garrison doesn’t believe the job of his school ends with the education of its students. The Chester resident is a firm believer that the school needs to function to build community and strengthen families.
His wife, Black River Middle School Technology teacher Laura Garrison shared her husband’s dream with some Chester residents who immediately wanted to help.
“I met Monica and Amy Smith on a soccer field while our daughters where playing. They heard what Sam was doing and they wanted to get involved,” Laura Garrison said. “They used their network and their business MarketSmith Inc. to reach out and within 24-hours they had received 100 pledges to donate meals to the families.”
According to Garrison, many of the pledges came from Chester residents. Over $10,000 was raised for the dinner and groceries, and hundreds of dollars in supplies for classrooms, puzzles, toys, and games were donated. Executive Assistant Kathleen Saccente orchestrated the delivery of food to the Marketsmith headquarters in Parsippany, where bags were packed with enough pasta, sauce, dinner rolls, canned vegetables, rice, beans, soup, crackers, apple juice, seltzer, and dessert for each family to prepare and enjoy at least two well-rounded meals.
“They ended up raising 150 bags of groceries for the families. As well as raising enough money to feed 500 hundred people,” Garrison said. “They not just donated but they organized the food into bags, came to the event and they served the food.”
The giving didn’t end there. During the hurricane situation the Garrison’s bumped into Carol Post at New York Pizza in Chester and learned that she was receiving trucks of supplies for those who need.
“We were able to get a truck and volunteers came together to load the truck, including the principal Bob Mullen and dean of students Brad Currie as well as teachers from Black River Middle School,” Garrison said. “The truck was loaded with cleaning supplies, new and gently used clothes and all of these things were delivered to Camden Street School and organized so that anyone in need could get them.”
Garrison said that this “all hands on deck project” could not have happened without the help of everyone that took part. And the plan is to keep it going.
“The goal is to have an event every quarter that focuses on the family,” Garrison said. “Our next plan is to have pizza and game night. We want the families to have fun together.”