Students Concerned for the Needy was founded in
1991. It developed out of a discussion in an English class regarding
going the extra mile to help those in need. Several students challenged
English teacher Bob Stevens to allow them to do a class project
that would help others less fortunate than themselves. The class
decided to sponsor a child through Children International. Individual
students each donated one dollar a month and the class “adopted”
Divina, a 5-year-old girl from the Philippines. The monies donated
provided food, clothing, medical care and education. Other English
classes heard of the project and wanted to do the same and within
two weeks, two other children were sponsored: Julio, a 7 year old
boy from the Dominican Republic, and Sabreen, a four year old special
needs girl from Israel. She was born with two deformed feet, both
of which needed extensive surgery in order for her to walk.
These same students thought that the idea of helping
others should be taken school wide. They decided to form a club
whose focus would be helping the less fortunate. A club existed
in the high school called Street Action whose focus was making sandwiches
that would be distributed to the homeless. Mrs. Carol Oakes, a former
English teacher and guidance counselor, led this group, and after
discussing a combination of Street Action and this new band of students,
Students Concerned for the Needy was born. SCN began the 1991-92
school year with a focus on child sponsorship and a food drive.
We conducted several fundraisers and donated the money to national
When Hurricane Andrew struck Florida in August
of 1992, we began the Disaster Relief arm of SCN. Various fundraisers
were conducted to aid in the relief effort. Disaster relief has
become a mainstay of SCN activities and saw members fundraise for
the earthquake victims of Japan in 1995, Hurricanes Mitch (1998)
and Floyd (1999). We partnered with the American Red Cross and offered
Disaster Services classes held in the MPR by a Red Cross instructor
which allowed students and staff to become “certified volunteers.”
A certified volunteer is one who, in any part of the country, may
respond to a disaster and volunteer at a Red Cross facility. Certification
allows the volunteer to take on more responsibilities than an uncertified
volunteer may be allowed to do.
Our first school wide food drive saw a total donation
of 435 items. Since that time, new projects and programs have been
added every year. Many of these projects have become annual events,
some of which are now staples in the SPFHS high school culture such
as the Christmas Food drive homeroom competition started in 1992
(for a complete list of our annual events, see our Projects
and Programs page). This event has grown to a point where the
club has collected over 3500 items per year and outside agencies
have come to rely on this project to help stock their shelves during
the winter months.
The year 1994 was a turning point for SCN. Instead
of focusing on helping others “anywhere on the planet,”
we decided to focus more on the central New Jersey region and Union
County in particular. With an ambitious officer team, three major
projects were added that have become annual events: the shoe drive
is held every autumn; the annual Candy Gram Fundraiser in December
and the 30 Hour Famine has become our major February project. These
projects have increased in scope and participants over the years
and the 30 Hour Famine gave birth to the biannual Hunger Banquet.
Our Feeding the Homeless project began in 1999.
Students regularly attend the Yes, We Care Soup Kitchen in Clarke
on Monday nights and the Temple Emmanuel Feeding Program in Westfield
on Tuesday nights.
When America was attacked on September 11, 2001,
SCN responded. We conducted six separate donation drives over a
two month period to collect needed items for the relief workers
who were involved in the recovery efforts at the World Trade Center.
We also developed American Pride tee shirts and sweatshirts and
raised over $3000 that helped two local families who lost a loved
one in the attack. To support our troops engaged in the War on Terror
in the Middle East, we sold over 325 auto magnets.
Most recently, SCN established the Family Fund,
a series of fundraisers that gather monetary donations to help families
in Scotch Plains and Fanwood who are experiencing a hardship. We
have been able to help: families devastated by Hurricane Floyd;
a family who lost most of their possessions in a house fire; a mother
of two small children who was afflicted with Lou Gehrig’s
disease; and two families who lost parents.
Canvassing has proven to be a successful project
for SCN. Halloween Canvassing has become an annual event since 2002.
With the cooperation of local businesses such as Quick Chek, Dunkin
Donuts and area supermarkets, SCN members have been able to canvass
and raise money for our Family Fund.
Besides our annual events, SCN has often completed
short-term projects. We have visited the elderly at nursing homes,
conducted baby showers for unwed mothers, participated in community
flea markets, and worked with local and national organizations such
as the Emmanuel Cancer Foundation and KidsRead.
Practically all of the events SCN has sponsored
have been sparked by a student idea for a project or program. Many
of them are now annual events. SCN encourages students, staff and
community members to submit ideas or proposals for consideration.
With a rich history behind us, we look forward to continuing writing
the history of helping those in need from our local communities.
We invite you to become a part of our history.