HOPE Committee Raises $1K for Local Charities

Despite the rain last Friday, Oak Knoll Upper School students were upbeat, dressed comfortably and ready to serve the needs of the less fortunate.

Last week, the Oak Knoll HOPE Committee (Helping Other People Everywhere) held its first HOPE week raising $ 1,173 for those in need by organizing a special day where students, faculty and staff contributed $5 to dress out of uniform, or casually.

Earlier last week, students learned about four local nonprofits in General Homeroom.

This was the first of four fundraisers that the OKS HOPE Committee organizes each academic year. Each HOPE fundraiser will serve four different charities and, ultimately, will benefit up to 16 charities per year.

The HOPE Committee serves as a clearinghouse for all OKS fundraising, collections, drives and all other monetary requests. Due to COVID-19, the HOPE Committee is currently unable to host its usual bake sales, which usually add to their fundraising totals.

Stephanie Almozara, Upper School Theology Department Chair, Director of Campus Ministry, and the HOPE Committee adviser, said that she is humbled by the students’ desire to fundraise for causes that are important to them and to our world.

“In the midst of the pandemic when the need of our neighbors is great, our students continue to meet the wants of the age,” said Almozara. “Bravo to them!”

HOPE Committee Coordinator Catherine Sharp ’21 said that there is so much that the Oak Knoll community can do to help others during the pandemic.

“I think it is so important to raise awareness to the causes that are personal to my peers,” said Sharp. “I hope to inspire the entire Upper School community to participate in some form of service with one of the organizations we fundraise for this year. I will also work toward fundraising for some causes that are less known or sometimes overlooked.”

The proceeds from last week’s HOPE Committee fundraiser were donated to the following four charities:

In partnership with the Madison, NJ YMCA, EPOCH stands for Educational Programs of Children’s Handicap and is an organization that provides a unique after-school program for developmentally disabled children who struggle to participate in traditional after school activities. It was founded in 1973 and is for children who are 6-21. At this program, the children can participate in a wide variety of activities such as, crafts, swimming, and bowling.

The Vascular Birthmark Institute
The Vascular Birthmark Institute treats children and adults who are born with “facial anomalies” of the vascular, lymphatic, and venous systems. Doctors operate on children from around the world who are horribly disfigured with no hope of getting better. The Vascular Birthmark Institute gives people the opportunity to lead a more normal life.

StreetSquash is an organization built to help children get a stronger education. StreetSquash also works hard to give children the opportunity to play sports such as squash. StreetSquash was founded in 1999 in New York. It has spread to New Jersey and is continuing to grow and expand. There are many ways you can help StreetSquash continue to grow and flourish by either volunteering at StreetSquash or by donating.

The Warehouse NJ
The Warehouse NJ is a small local run non-profit that helps individuals and families that have experienced homelessness. Most of their clients have received a Section 8 voucher which provides low-income, subsidized housing. Since many of the clients have experienced homelessness, they often only come with a few bags of clothes and other items. The Warehouse NJ successfully helps transition their clients into their new homes by providing them with donated furniture, household essentials including bedding, couches, tables, kitchen items, décor and more.

For more information about Oak Knoll’s HOPE Committee please visit https://www.oakknoll.org/upper-school/student-life/clubs/.