Hurricane Irene wreaked havoc on Cranford, causing power outages, school closings and devastation to property throughout town, including the holiday decorations that many families spent years collecting. Recently, the eighth grade religious education class at the St. Michael’s Parish collected decorations to give to community members who suffered losses during the flood.
Jacqueline Karmol, the director of Religious Education at St, Michael's, said she wanted to do something with the students she had never done before. After emailing them about the project, 20 students responded and in late October they put up flyers and placed boxes for donations in schools, churches and the Cranford Community Center. The collection ran from Nov. 14 to 23.
Karmol said the effort the students put forth in collecting decorations was amazing. They worked together as a team and spread the word to the residents in a timely fashion. She also said it is important to know most of the students who participated did so out of the kindness of their hearts.
“The kids have been really responsive to this,” Karmol said.
Seeing the children work together was amazing, she added. They saw there was a need in the community and acted as leaders, Karmol said. One of the students, who helped collect decorations was Candace Durant.
“The majority of the kids did it to help,” Durant said.
Durant, who was in charge of the committee that made and distributed the fliers, said she was surprised they were able to collect so many decorations and even as recently as Monday people were still donating. The donations included ornaments, trees and even a large nativity.
As word spread through town about the project, Durant said many other students asked to join and help. She said that, ultimately, it was a worthwhile experience that will benefit many people, she said.
“It was definitely fun,” Durant said.
The auditorium of the church is filled with boxes of decorations and flood victims in need of holiday decorations are encouraged to go on Dec. 10 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to collect any items free of charge.