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Stories From Main Street: N.J. Students Who Require Help Pitch In To Help Community

Students at the Midland School volunteered at a local food pantry to give back to the community. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

Students at the Midland School volunteered at a local food pantry to give back to the community. (credit: Sean Adams/WCBS 880)

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BRANCHBURG, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – After hearing a story on WCBS 880 about a food shortage at pantries, a teacher at a school for the developmentally disabled in Somerset County, N.J. recruited her students to help.

As WCBS 880′s Sean Adams reported, the older students at the Midland School pitched in and, in the process, got a lot out of it.

“I like making people happy. And I like making people smile,” Matthew Cohen, 20, said. “If you ever want to help out with somebody else who don’t have any food, it’s a great thing to do. Anybody can do it.”

Cohen and his classmates got a lesson they will never forget, Adams reported.

“That’s what they’re good at. Helping others even though they require help, too,” Jane Wilkie said.

Wilkie helps students transition and learn vocational skills at the special school for the developmentally disabled in Somerset County.

Stories from Main Street (credit: CBSNewYork)

Stories from Main Street (credit: CBSNewYork)

One day on WCBS 880, she heard a story about a food shortage at local pantries.

“He suggested that all schools in the area, if each student would only bring in one can of food for the food bank, it would help because the shelves were depleted,” said Wilkie.

The students pitched in for the effort.

“I helped load the food on the cart,” student Ryan Houdek, 20, said.

“We went to the food bank and we helped them with the food on the cart,” 21-year-old Farrah Aziz said.

The students collected 292 pounds of food.

“Incorporated a lot of skills here. Academic skills, checking the food, counting, weighing, packaging which is an extension of the work program,” teacher Phyllis Ballentine told Adams.

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The faculty said the project was a morale booster and made the students feel like they really could make a difference.

“Throughout their school career, they recognize the help that they receive and they feel really good about being able to help others so it’s just a commitment and a recognition – everyone needs help from time to time,” said Ballentine. “This class has a can-do attitude. They’re normally helpful and cheerful and they knew this was an important thing.”

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