When our school closed down in March of 2020, just like every other school across the state, we had no idea what to expect. It did not take long to predict that the shutdown would last longer than two weeks, a month, months and so forth. Staff members worked with area stakeholders to mobilize in an effort to serve our community during the shutdown. A partnership called Hamilton Cares resulted in an effort to address the impacts of the pandemic on Hamilton Township citizens. Through Hamilton Cares, staff made over 1,000 phone calls to families to say, first and foremost, that we care. In the calls, concerns over academics and attendance were not expressed. Staff asked if we could help in any way and simply let them know that we are here for them. If they or anyone they know of were in need, the Hamilton Cares Hotline was available. From that effort, many partnerships, volunteer efforts, resource sharing and supply distribution occurred to assist families since spring. This includes the following:
- Supplies such as clothing, diapers and food pantry supplies have been donated.
- Over $8000 in ACME gift cards have been distributed (provided by a partnership with Hunger Free NJ) through meal distribution promotions and hotline phone calls.
- Resource sharing and brainstorming sessions have occurred regularly with local food pantries.
- An average of 7,000 meals each week have been distributed to area families for free (all thanks to our amazing food service staff!)
- School staff have volunteered weekly throughout the summer and fall to deliver breakfasts and lunches to families that lack transportation.
- Virtual family fun night series and free wellness kit giveaways that coincide with meal distribution