Brookdale community members and Monmouth County residents are encouraged to join together in support of local students during the 4th annual OceanFirst Charity Challenge.
For the next four weeks, nonprofit organizations across central and southern New Jersey will engage in a friendly competition to raise money for worthy local causes, with the top fundraisers earning a share of $27,000 in grants from the OceanFirst Bank Foundation.
The Brookdale Community College Alumni Association is a featured participant in this year’s Charity Challenge, and will be raising money to support the new Helping Hands initiative at Brookdale. The charity challenge kicks off at noon today and runs until Tuesday, May 16 at 2 p.m. All students, employees, friends, family and community members are encouraged to donate, spread the word, and help make a difference for local students in need.
Helping Hands, launched in February, provides free food, snacks and drinks to students who are struggling with food insecurity while attending Brookdale.
According to recent nationwide studies, as many as 50 percent of all students at some colleges and universities struggle with food insecurity, meaning they do not have reliable, daily access to food. A 2015 survey of some 2,000 community college students found that 20 percent of all respondents went hungry on a daily basis, while 13 percent were also homeless.
“The stereotype of the ‘starving student’ is a very real issue,” said Synde Kaufman, administrator of Brookdale’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. “A recent Inside Higher Education report found that 25 percent of students at two-year community colleges have a very low level of food security… Knowing that 1 in 4 of our students may not have enough to eat, how do we expect them to succeed in their classes?
“It is our hope that by providing a place for these students to go to get basic nutrition, they will no longer have to worry about food and be able to fully concentrate on their education,” Kaufman added. “We want to help students stay in school, and we want them to succeed.”
To get involved, visit the Brookdale Alumni Association’s Charity Challenge webpage and pledge a donation to the Helping Hands initiative. Community members are also asked to share the page with friends, family and on social media, or create their own mini fundraising team to work alongside the Brookdale Alumni Association. All money raised will go to purchase food, drinks and supplies for local students.
The Charity Challenge competitor that raises the most money by May 16 will win a $20,000 OceanFirst grant to support their initiative. Second place will win $5,000 and third place will win $2,000.
Participating organizations are also eligible to win weekly “bonus challenges,” OceanFirst grants and other prizes.
“The Brookdale Alumni Association is pleased to support this initiative and encourages everyone to support the campaign,” said Lauren Watson, president of the alumni association. “This is a fantastic opportunity for the Brookdale community to come together and have some fun while providing some very valuable support to Brookdale students.”