Catholic school students help teens in Asbury Park shelter

Students in two Catholic elementary schools in the Diocese donated their time, talent and treasure recently to benefit an area charity which strives to assist at-risk youth. Fifth through eighth graders in Holy Cross School, Rumson, kicked up their heels at a fund raising dance party, while St. Rose School, Belmar, students delivered a supply of toiletries intended for Covenant House of Monmouth County, which operates a house for homeless teens in Asbury Park.

Dan Ryan, development manager of Covenant House, had visited Holy Cross School the week of Feb. 20, reminding the students that a safe and nurturing community like that of the Rumson school was completely unknown to the teens who came to his agency for help. Ryan detailed a few of the services provided by the shelter, including a young mother and baby program and the college assistance program, and shared videos of former clients, who with the assistance of Covenant House, continued their education, secured jobs, and began living independently.

The inspiring presentation prompted the students to ask family and friends to sponsor them at the three-hour dance marathon held Feb. 24. A deejay played tunes and the fifth through eighth grade students, fueled by pizza and desserts, choreographed routines for friendly competitions with their classmates. By the end of the evening, $4,000 was raised for Covenant House.

During the month of February, the entire student body of St. Rose School collected toiletries in conjunction with their lesson on generosity and giving with a full heart, explained Stefanie O’Donnell, school counsellor.

“I asked coordinators [at Covenant House] what was needed as well as what would be appropriate for our children to donate,” she said. The Asbury Park facility decided that toothbrushes, toothpaste and socks would be most valued, and the pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students in St. Rose School rounded up an impressive haul.

The avalanche of toiletries, some 200 items, was donated to Covenant House March 10. O’Donnell explained, “This collection was especially significant for our upper grade students who are the same age as the teens the Covenant House serves.”

Covenant House is the nation’s largest nonprofit charity serving at-risk youth with around-the-clock access to food, shelter, immediate crisis care and other important services. More than 51,000 homeless, runaway and trafficked youth between the ages of 18-21 benefit from the services of Covenant House’s 30 locations nationwide. Other New Jersey locations include Newark and Atlantic City.

How Low Can He Go? • A Holy Cross fifth-grader takes part in the limbo competition. Photo courtesy of Holy Cross School

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