Macopin students make a difference

| 27 Mar 2012 | 02:17

WEST MILFORD — In the first weeks of February, the students of Macopin School held a coat drive to gather winter jackets to donate to shelters and organizations for the underprivileged and homeless in Passaic, Essex, and Morris counties. Nine organizations, whose needs for warm winter jackets were not met by earlier community coat drives, had a need for over 200 jackets, especially those for children and teens. Students and staff of Macopin brought in 247 coats to be donated. During this process, eighth grade, Emerald cluster students volunteered to work together to collect, organize, bundle, and label the jackets during lunch periods and after school.

According to students, volunteering to help with the coat drive was a rewarding experience.

“I felt really good after I donated my coats," said Alexis Silverman, an eighth grader. "I donated five or seven coats for the drive and it was really worth it in the end."

Classmates agreed. “I helped sort and organize the jackets; it was surprising how many jackets were donated, especially how many nice jackets there were, too," said Melanie Dowling.

Tara Otegui donated coats and helped throughout the process of managing the influx of jackets during and after school.

“Helping out with the coat drive made me feel like I was helping the whole community," said Tara. "I’m glad that I did.”

Some students admitted to getting involved in the coat drive partially because of the rewards. The winning cluster received a night off from homework and several teachers offered other awards, some as strange as dyeing their hair a funky color.

“I think that the coat drive was a great idea," said student Ally Porter. "I think it also helped that the teachers said that if you get a certain number of coats they will dye their hair an epic color.”

Emerald cluster students did reach their goal of two hundred coats and did get one of their cluster teachers to dye her hair purple and keep the color through the first week in March.

“We’re looking forward to possibly holding another coat drive next year," said Macopin teacher Amy Dickerson. "Now that we know what to expect, we can expand it and begin earlier in the year. Most shelters are looking for jackets around October, but so many places ran short of winter jackets this year.”

Dickerson encourages individuals throughout the community to donate items of clothing rather than throwing them away. Since nearly one out of every three homeless individuals in the United States is under the age of 18, kids’ clothing is especially needed and often times overlooked.

In the end, it all came down to making a difference in people's lives.

“I really loved donating and helping out because it made me feel like I was making a difference," said student Frannie Carnuccio. "Anyone can make a difference in another person’s life.”