For my Independent Service Project, I collected over 125 backpacks filled with school supplies to donate to a CASA foster home in my New Jersey community. CASA (court appointed special advocates) is a program designed to help monitor abused and neglected children in out-of-home placements.

During my volunteer time with the Summer CCD Academy I brought up the idea to Mrs. Geraldine Keogh. She has run similar collections in the past and was thrilled by the opportunity to help out again. She, herself, is a court appointed special advocate (CASA). Her connections and guidance were essential to the success of my project.

To kickoff my project, I created a promotional flyer, which I, along with family and friends, posted to social media pages. My local church, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scotch Plains, NJ, also posted the flyer on their bulletin, shared information in after-mass announcements, and hosted the collection of all supplies.

Church members, family, friends, and members of my local community were generous enough to donate to my collection to help ease the back to school process for less fortunate children. I chose to donate the backpacks to a CASA represented foster home in Newark, New Jersey.

Back-to-school has always been an exciting time for me. I love seeing my friends everyday and starting a new year of learning. Coming from a place of privilege, I have never had to worry about having the supplies necessary for success in the classroom. I recognize that it’s not this way for many children. I was grateful to have the opportunity to help underprivileged kids in the New Jersey community. I hope that my collection brought happiness to their faces during the back-to-school season!

Written by 2022 HLFYA Aidan Fairweather