Growing up and never leaving the community you grew up in, may not be for everyone but for me, it was what I always wanted. Other than leaving to go to college in Washington, DC for four years, and a spending a few years right after we were married in a townhouse ten minutes away from here, I have remained in Maplewood, New Jersey. My hometown. Married to my high-school sweetheart, we knew this was the place for us to raise our own family.
I am sure it is the same in every small town, but one of the things I love most about my community is how so many small businesses still remain and are thriving here. There are no big chain stores or restaurants. Many of the businesses are privately owned and run by local families.
I try to support the small businesses in my community to keep the local economy strong. My dad owns one of these local businesses, which makes me even more passionate about it. One thing that I love most about living here, is how so many of theses businesses give back to the community. Through the annual Memorial Day Duck Race and school auctions where merchants donate prizes and services to the Street Fairs and Girls’ Nights Out – the list could go on and on.
This week it has been “Restaurant Week” in town.
Local restaurants aresupporting Rent Party Pantry, Inc. in its efforts to fight hunger locally so come on out that week and sample the quality, variety and hospitality of Maplewood’s restaurants and food purveyors for less AND help fight hunger on the local level.
This tied in perfectly with a fundraiser at another one of my favorite businesses, Viva Z. On the last Friday of every month, the owner holds a dance party. All classes are free but you are asked to make a donation to the local charity she has chosen for the month. Last month, it was for the local fire department. Last night, was a collection for the local food pantry.
Maplewood Karate, encourages its students to give back as well. Students earn blue charity stripes on their belt for donating food which is also donated to the local food pantry.
There is a saying, “It takes a village,” and Maplewood really proves that is true. Things like this are happening all of the time here, demonstrating how important community is and how valuable it is to give back. I think it is part of the charm that draws people to our town. It certainly makes me want to stay!