Students win grand prize for volunteerism

METUCHEN — Students at Metuchen High School were recently awarded with a $5,000 grand prize for their volunteerism.

Representatives of Optimum’s Power to Learn initiative, along with Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (D-Middlesex) and Mayor Thomas Vahalla, recognized students at Metuchen High School on May 27 as the New Jersey prizewinners in this year’s Charity Champions, a program that promotes volunteerism and encourages area high schools to raise funds for a charity of their choice.

“I applaud all of you here today for your commitment to those in need,” Vahalla told the students. “And thank you to Cablevision for creating a program that continues to motivate young people to help others.”

The $5,000 will be donated to Breaking the Chain Through Education, an organization dedicated to eradicating child slave trafficking and educating children by building schools in impoverished regions of Ghana.

“Living in Metuchen, it is difficult to imagine the lives of these youngsters in Ghana who are sold to the fishing industry by their parents,” Vahalla said. “Without organizations like Breaking the Chain Through Education, their chances for receiving an education would be slim.”

Student members of Breaking the Chain Through Education read their original slam poetry and showed a short film about the work they are doing in Ghana.

Breaking the Chain Through Education founder Evan Robbins then spoke about the projects on which the students have worked, and was presented with the $5,000 check.

Through fundraising efforts, the organization has funded the release of 30 trafficked children as well as the development of a school and housing for teachers.

“First, I’d like to congratulate the students involved in this worthy effort and say how very proud we are of each of you,” Pinkin said. “Thanks to your commitment, many of these children are no longer living under horrific conditions and will have a chance to receive an education.”

Cablevision’s Vice President of Public Affairs Jennifer Ostrager praised the students’ efforts, as well.

“We congratulate the students at Metuchen High School for winning the New Jersey Charity Champions grand prize, and applaud their leadership,” she said.

Charity Champions promotes volunteerism and helps to raise money for a school-selected charity. Students commit time and effort to raising money, competing against other schools and contributing the funds raised. A prizewinner from participating schools in each of the six tri-state regions that Cablevision serves is selected in the spring and awarded $5,000 for their school’s chosen charity.