We are thrilled to announce that Willow has once again won two awards in this year’s Students Change Hunger campaign, a fundraiser for The Community FoodBank of New Jersey. This year, 70 schools and youth groups participated in the campaign. The campaign collectively raising over $40,000 and 72,000 pounds of food, providing over 176,900 meals for our neighbors in need. Willow was recognized for Most Funds Donated, having raised an impressive $8,988, and Most Meals Donated, contributing to 26,964 meals!
These awards are the result of our second annual Willow Winter Dash, a fundraiser organized by Andy Pruzick, Willow’s Middle School Co-Director and Wellness Teacher.
What inspired the Willow Winter Dash?
“Two years ago, when Sally Zeiner [Willow’s Lower School Director] first introduced the Community Food Bank of NJ Students Change Hunger fundraiser, I contributed. I wrote a check, and I was glad to give back. But I had no big emotion attached to it,” Mr. Andy said. “That same holiday season, I dropped a bag of groceries off at the food bank. The joy I saw on the woman’s face who was receiving it…it seemed like a million dollars. I want to try to get that feeling into everyone that’s participating. Money is one thing, but the actual gift people are getting is far more substantial.”
Inspired by this experience and a “candy cane” run at his kids’ school, Mr. Andy brought the idea for the fundraiser to last year’s Middle School Advisory groups. Together, students came up with the name for the Willow Winter Dash, created flyers, and spread the word. Students brought in non-perishables as an entry fee to the Dash. Parents, grandparents, and community members pledged donations per lap. The Dash is now well on its way to becoming an annual Willow tradition.
The Greater Meaning of Giving Back
As Mr. Andy reflected, “As a community, we are very fortunate that we don’t have to worry about food insecurity. To give a little bit of yourself by running for an hour…that little bit helps those that don’t have that luxury. In keeping with our Willow virtues of service and charity, you’re helping someone in our community.”
We are incredibly proud of our students and grateful to our generous donors. We are excited to see how next year’s middle schoolers will lead the Willow Winter Dash and look forward to continuing to participate in The Community FoodBank’s Student Change Hunger campaign. Thank you, CFBNJ, for all that you do and for inspiring our students! You helped them learn that they are never too young to make a difference.