The Asbury Park unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County [BGCM] will provide free school supplies and uniforms Friday to club members who register at a discounted rate at the club’s “Back to School” event.
The cost of registration is $10 for members ages 13 to 18 and $20 for members ages six to 12.
Along with all of the benefits that come with club registration, members who register at the Sept. 6 event will receive book bags stuffed with essential school supplies [shown at right], two new school uniforms and a voucher for a free haircut, while supplies last, according to a prepared release from the club.
The Back to School Celebration will conclude with a pizza party for Club members, the release said.
Registration takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Asbury unit, located at 1201 Monroe Ave. in Asbury Park.
Dr. Amy Peardon, an Asbury-based pediatrics doctor and BGCM board member, led the effort to secure corporate and private donations, according to Mari McMahon, director of operations for the BGCM. Peardon’s efforts produced 500 backpacks pre-filled with school supplies, plus additional notebooks, supplies and uniforms. As well, she was able to recruit some of her patients to volunteer their time to sort and stuff the backpacks.
The club “offers tremendous benefits to the children of our community,” according to Douglas Eagles, executive director for the BGCM.
“In a survey of our members conducted earlier this year, 93% of our kids indicated that they felt a strong sense of belonging while at the club,” he said.
Programs for teen club members include topics of character and leadership development, health and life skills and education and career choices training, according to Isaiah Jones, Asbury Park unit director for the BGCM.
“It’s not just about recreation at the Boys & Girls Club, it’s about academics, too,” said McMahon.
Jahsria Robinson, 16, is a rising junior at Asbury Park High School this year. On Tuesday, she volunteered her time to help stuff backpacks at the BGCM.
She has been a member of the BGCM since 7th grade.
“I don’t really go out,” she said. “Being at the Boys & Girls Club helps me meet friends. I texted Isaiah last night to thank him for letting me come here and help.”
After she graduates, Robinson has plans to attend Coppin State University, a historically black college located in Baltimore, Maryland.
Rachel Garduce, 20, also showed up to help stuff backpacks on Tuesday. Garduce is enrolled in the social work program at Monmouth University and will work as an intern at the BGCM throughout the school year. Tuesday was the first day of her internship at the BGCM.
Garduce, from Rockaway, N.J., “wanted to [intern] at a place that does gang prevention,” she said. “That’s what I want to do, to impact kids and the community. I want to find out about their concerns and help kids stay on the right track making good choices.”
“In a city where gangs prey upon kids, it’s critically important that our young people have a safe, fun place where they feel they belong. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County provides just that,” said Eagles.
Sponsors for the event include the Disney Store and the Microsoft store of Freehold Raceway Mall, according to a prepared release from the BGCM. In addition, JP Morgan Chase donated the 500 pre-filled book bags for the event.
For more information about this event, contact Mari McMahon at Mari@bgcmonmouth.org.
For more information about the Boys & Girls Club, visit their website.
[Photo at top: Volunteers Amana Malik, Jill Villany, Jamur Taylor, Jahsria Robinson and BGCM intern Rachel Garduce stuff backpacks with school supplies in preparation of Friday's event.]