Flemington, NJ Prekindergarten Class Raises Money After Boardwalk Fire

Every donation, no matter how small, counts toward a relief effort. That's the important lesson these students learned recently.

Every donation, no matter how small, counts toward a relief effort. That’s the important lesson these students learned recently.

The children at the Flemington KinderCare expressed sadness and confusion to their teacher, Amanda Brown, after a six-alarm fire ripped through eight blocks of the Seaside Heights, NJ boardwalk on the evening of September 13.

These four- and five-year-olds grew up visiting the Jersey Shore, about an hour and a half away from their hometown. Less than a year before, the New Jersey coastline was devastated by Hurricane Sandy and portions of the Seaside Heights boardwalk had only recently reopened.

“What happened to the Dragon Rollercoaster, the Log Flume, and Carousel?” the children asked. One of two historic carousels on the boardwalk was destroyed in the fire. It had been damaged by floodwaters during Sandy and re-opened on Memorial Day, only three months prior. The children did not understand what had happened to their boardwalk. It was difficult for Amanda and Center Director Debi Agabiti to explain, but they kept the conversation open.

The children kept asking how they could help. Together, the class decided to collect cans and raise money to contribute to rebuilding the boardwalk. KinderCare sent out fliers and posted information about the can drive in the local paper.

Two months later, the children were very excited to count their cans. Amanda turned the moment into a math lesson, and they counted 419 cans, totaling 13 pounds. She then took the children on a field trip. The kindergarteners and School-Age children boarded the KinderCare bus and went to a nearby recycling plant, where they learned all about recycling.

Meanwhile, Debi wrote a donation letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “While the amount they raised from their 13 pounds of cans is not very much at all, to them it is,” she wrote. “They feel such tremendous pride and ownership in having collected the 13 pounds of cans and to them it was hundreds of dollars.” The children raised $6.25, which Debi enclosed in the letter with a request to forward the donation to any organization that could use it. She also included a class photo. “They feel that they have in some small way helped keep their love of the Jersey shore alive,” she concluded.

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