Tag Archives: Rent Party

Giving Back and Having Fun While Doing It

only by giving

What a fun-filled weekend! It began on Friday night, when I joined a friend at a Rent Party concert, one of my favorite local organizations, which helps to feed hungry children in our own community.

Saturday, I ran in another Muck Fest, along with several teachers from my school. This has become an annual event for us now.  This was our fifth race as a team and each year we have more and more fun doing it. The race isn’t a hard one – I have to get over a fear of heights I never knew I had, but other than that, the obstacles are fun, dirty and mucky and we laugh through the entire race. The entire race, which is held in various locations across the country, raises money for MS.  Our team collected close to $1000 this year.

Sunday, several local women and I got together to hold a vendor event. We are donating a percentage of our proceeds to Rent Party/Back Pack Pals. It was a pretty successful day.  I am still taking orders that will benefit the cause and will keep it going for a few more days.

The weekend ended with an end of the year soccer BBQ and pool party at the home of one of Drew’s teammates.  Dave and DJ left early to head to Boston for DJ’s freshmen orientation. Hard to believe this is possible! Sometimes I don’t feel old enough to be the mom of a college student, but I guess I am since this is actually happening!

Back Pack Pals

rent party PRIDE

Tonight, I joined some fellow SOMEA, (South Orange Maplewood Education Association) members at one of their monthly Rent Parties. Proceeds from these Rent Parties go towards helping to fight hunger in our community.

We made a donation to help sponsor their “Back Pack Pals Program.” This program provides food for students in our community whose families may be struggling financially. It costs $25 a month to support a child for one month and $175 for the entire year.  We are hoping that our donation from SOMEA will be able to help more children in need.

If you can help support a child, send an email to bpp@rentpartylive.com Let them know you found them through my blog. It is such a worthwhile program.  A child should never have to go to bed hungry.

It Really Isn’t Hard

giving back2

I have a day off today.  Tomorrow too.  It is the NJEA Teachers’ Convention and despite the fact that I would love to be in Atlantic City taking advantage of the classes offered, this year, we just could not swing the cost.  What some people don’t realize is, while the classes offered are free, the hotel, food and gas money is not.  That, along with child care for many people, is a big reason why so many of us in Northern New Jersey can’t take part in this convention. 

I decided instead to make this a productive, charitable day instead.  My day started getting up an hour later than on a normal work day!! Yippee 7am! I spent two hours writing narratives (5 out of 23) for report cards, updating my classroom website and doing some lesson planning.

I loaded up my car with all of the candy donations from school and neighbors and headed over to a Barre class.  A morning exercise class is a luxury to me!  While there, the owner, Lydia and I discussed her next monthly charitable endeavor.  She chooses one per month to promote. This month, we are hoping to gather donations for the local animal shelter.  Upon leaving there, I collected more candy that had been dropped of to her studio, as well as a bag of food that someone had left for the food pantry.

I headed to a thrift shop that I keep reading about.  The Op-Shop. My friend Eebie works there and she posts photos and comments about the great finds there, and knowing how much I love a good deal, Dave encouraged me to go check it out.  All proceeds go to the church that it is affiliated with, so no matter what I found, it would be a win-win situation! I hit the jackpot!  Sweaters, a suede skirt.  I have a new wardrobe for the winter.  When I left, I was even able to donate a bag of clothing that has been in my car.  I had been keeping it there hoping to put it into one of those clothing boxes found in parking lots, but this worked out even better.

Then, it was off to the orthodontist who was going to take all of that candy!  They had a $25 limit, but I brought them nearly 50 pounds of candy thanks to all of the donations.  Along with the $25, they offered another donation to Rent Party after hearing that I would be donating the proceeds to them.

On my way home, I had two more stops to make.  The first was to the food pantry to drop off that bag of food and the second to another neighbor who is collecting Halloween Costumes that will be shared at the school she teaches where many of the students are underprivileged and not able to afford to buy new costumes.  Those costumes were also passed along to me and I was happy to find a place that can make good use of them.

Now, I am home.  About to weed through my closet and drawers to find clothes that I can donate before filling them up with my new treasures from today.  It came full circle.  Such a positive, giving day and sooooo incredibly easy.  All of this done in less than 3 hours. It barely cost me a thing and in the end, so many people are benefiting.

I don’t post this to make people say, “Great job Claire” but to show how easy it really is.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot to make a difference.

Candy Overload

too much candy

On Saturday, the owner of the studio where I take some classes asked me what she could do with all of the extra Halloween candy she had.  Since she was the third person to ask me that, I decided to look into it.  I put a plea out on Facebook and wound up with an abundance of ideas!  Shelters, the troops, food pantries…and then someone told me about a local orthodontist who collects it, pays for it by the pound and then donates it along with tooth brushes to a local shelter.  I decided to go with that one.  If we make any money from the candy, I will donate it to Rent Party, which is another local organization that gives support to children and feeding the hungry in our own town.  It might only turn out to be a few dollars, but every little bit helps. Rent Part runs a program called Back Pack Pals.  it is my “newest favorite charity” project that I am trying to get involved in.  It costs $175 a year to support one child.  These children are provided with kid-friendly food that are at risk of going hungry over the weekends.  Most of these children are already receiving free and reduced lunch at school, so this ensures that they will be fed over the weekend as well. Some of the things that might be in the packs are:

  • Beef-a-Roni
  • Spaghetti O’s
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Raviolis, etc.
  • Assorted Cereals
  • Juice Boxes
  • Shelf Stable Milks or Chocolate Milks
  • Fruit Cups, Apple Sauce, etc.

All children deserve a balanced meal.  There needs to be more awareness in order to get more support.  Perhaps this little chain of giving, beginning at “leftover” Halloween candy can be a start.

Getting Children Involved


This afternoon, Drew and I had the opportunity to volunteer with TAKE THE CAKE, a program serving Maplewood-South Orange, New Jersey and our neighboring communities. They are a proud part of Rent Party Pantries (501c3) and are committed to the idea that every child deserves a special birthday party.  Last month, I took photos for their first party and I was so happy to be able to be a part of it again.

Drew decided to join me today because he was invited to a Bar Mitzvah for his friend Jacob.  Jacob is involved with Take the Cake as his Mitzvah project and since we aren’t able to donate a lot of money to the cause, we decided that donating our time would be beneficial as well.

Today’s party was for a child who was nominated by Good Grief, an organization that helps children and teens cope with the loss of a family member.

When I found the quote I added to my blog today, I was brought to a blog on, Chaos in My Arc. It offered so many suggestions for ways children can get involved.  From small things like random acts of kindness, to full blown projects. I think it is so important to get children involved in volunteering as early as possible.  Hopefully it will be something that sticks with them as they grow up and they will continue to see the good it can do for others and make a difference in the lives of others.

Giving Back

giving back

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!

MLK Mitzvah Day

service to others

Since today we recognize Martin Luther King Jr, and it is also the inauguration of The President of The United States, I told my boys that today, we would be giving back to others by donating our time somewhere in the community.  We decided to volunteer with “Back Pack Pals”.  The four of us, my husband included, headed over to Congregation B’nai to help out.  Several churches and temples in the area were holding “days of service”‘ in celebration of Dr. King.  AlthoughI wrote about Back Pack Pals in an earlier post.  I had never actually seen the packs of food assembled.  When we arrived at the temple, we began to set up an assembly line.  Each bag of food includes, four meals (2 lunch, 2 dinner), 2 milks, 2 juices, 2 applesauce cups, 2 fruit cups and 2 breakfast bars.  This enables a child to have enough food to get them through the weekend.  Today volunteers helped pack over 110 bags.  All of the food goes to students in our school district.  I asked how many weeks this would last and was shocked to hear that nearly 70 bags are given out each week.  What seemed to be an enormous amount of food  would not even be enough for two weeks of meals!  One of the organizers, Dave, told me that every week, he has groups, (like the girl scouts and other local organizations), come together to pack up the bags.  The bags are then delivered to the students at their schools so that they can bring them home in their back packs and not be hungry on the weekends.  Many of these children are able to receive free or reduced meals during the week at school, but on the weekends, might otherwise go hungry.

This is such a worthwhile cause.  A lot of the money raised for Back Pack Pals comes from the Rent Parties – (this is from an earlier blog, https://aprojectforkindness.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/rent-party/).  If you are looking for a way to donate, I really want you to check out this program.  Both of my boys were as surprised as I was at how many children in our own school system benefited from it.  Check out their facebook page, and like it, to see some of the ways that you can help.  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rent-Party-BackPack-Pals/244596515582876

boys back pack pals