At St. Mary Academy in Manahawkin, giving to others is an important function among the students as they seek to love the community around them. On Monday, Nov. 21, the Knights delivered in a big way to David’s Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation.
Surrounded by the 12 eighth-graders who led the SMA Trunk or Treat event on Oct. 29, DDBCF founder David Caldarella was handed a check for $1,000 – the amount raised during the Halloween weekend fundraiser.
“For me, it’s all about these kids and them understanding there’s a bigger world out there and people need help,” Caldarella said. “Events like their Trunk or Treat empower and teach them to give back. With all the heartache and sadness involved with a cancer diagnosis, it’s events like these, with children from the community, that are inspiring. My parents always used to say, ‘Look out for the helpers,’ and that’s them. This is what they’re being taught here, and it’s inspiring and exciting knowing that these kids are coming up to someday fill bigger roles.”
Since the Knights first held their Trunk or Treat in 2019, they hadn’t broken the $800 mark – the previous high was $738 during that first run. This year, months of planning and promoting paid off.
“We worked on this project for about two months,” said eighth-grade student Alexis Maszaros. “We made posters to put up around the school and posted the Trunk or Treat to our website. We went around to all our classrooms to explain the cause and why we were doing it. We did a lot to try to make it a success.”
With some 40 vehicles decorated and providing treats to the estimated 300 youngsters who showed up for the festivities, the Knights proved, once again, they know how to make the most of an opportunity to have an impact within their community.
“It was all to help out David’s Dream and Believe and the patients and families,” said student Julyana Osorio, who had dressed up as a police officer for the event. “We were able to raise $1,000, and I was so happy that day. It was lovely to see so many people get involved in helping an organization as beautiful as David’s Dream and Believe, and it showed we really care and want to help. A lot of people came through for the cause.”
Besides Osorio and Maszaros, the rest of the eighth-grade crew included C.J. Moody, Dylan DiFrancia, Bernand Kane, Madelyn Terzian, Jacob Huff, Annie Caravella, Carmela Lis, Francisca Paspe, Justin Arias and Jack McGuire. Math teacher Marcella Collucci oversaw the group’s efforts.
Caldarella was impressed with the effort from a private school of only 200 students.
“It’s great because $1,000 means a couple of families have groceries on their table for the holidays,” Caldarella said. “Every bit of that $1,000 matters, and a couple of families are better off this holiday season because of these kids who were motivated enough to pay it forward.”
— David Biggy