Many organizations throughout the greater-Princeton area are facing challenges associated with, or exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. Use the list below to learn more about community partners organizations across the region and how you can support them during Month of Service (January 4-29, 2021). This page will continue to be updated. Each organization has identified their own specific needs and ways to contribute.
- Alan B. Shepard Elementary School
Alan B. Shepard Elementary School in Old Bridge, NJ has been partnered with the Pace Center since 2016. Since the school was named as a National School of Character in 2012 and again in 2016, part of the school's mission has been to infuse a sense of social responsibility into our kindergarten through fifth grade students. The school's efforts have taken the form of community projects and service learning projects which have only been bolstered by our continuing partnership with the Pace Center. Its teachers, counselors, and administrator have participated in several Community Action events and are continuously inspired and re-energized when given the opportunity to interact and work with our partners at Princeton.
As everyone has experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic has upended all traditional norms of the education setting. As an administrator, Joseph Marinzoli has noted that many of the school's teachers, both veteran and novice, who had always relied upon the closeness of the brick and mortar school environment to share ideas, and help each other, have indicated that they are overwhelmed with the wave of new technological demands, and feeling of social isolation that comes with distance learning. During this time, take a moment to remember your teachers, no matter which grade level and send them some encouraging words in a letter or note updating them on your life and successes. It just might be the shot in the arm that helps them keep going!
How to Support
During this difficult time, take a moment to remember your teachers, no matter which grade level and send them some encouraging words in a letter or note updating them on your life and successes. You could also find and adopt an elementary school by going online, finding their staff list and providing some kind words of appreciation. Thank you and be kind!
- Anchor House, Inc.
Anchor House was founded in 1978 to move homeless and runaway youth off the streets of Trenton, NJ and reunite them with their family. Its mission is to provide a safe haven where abused, runaway, homeless and at-risk youth and their families are empowered to succeed and thrive. While its mission has remained consistent, its programs evolved over the years to help end youth homelessness and prepare youth to live productive and independent lives. Today, Anchor House offers a myriad of programs and services that meet the complex needs of youth, ages 12 to 24 and their families from Mercer County and throughout the state of New Jersey and beyond. Anchor House provides the only shelter, transitional living, youth and street outreach program in Mercer County, and one of two supportive housing programs in the county for older youth.
Anchor House never closed its doors during the pandemic and has continued its programming for homeless and runaway youth. Anchor House is extremely grateful for donations at this time as they recently faced a devastating funding cut to its shelter as a result of an effort to reconcile the New Jersey state budget deficit due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Due to these cuts, Anchor House lost $243,000 of critical funds affecting youth ages 12-17.
How to Support
Anchor House would appreciate donations of gift cards and food baskets that can be given to its youth. The organization is also looking for skill-based volunteers, including photographers and people with marketing and social media experience. To donate money, gift cards, food baskets, or your skills and time, contact Anchor House at email@example.com or 609-396-8329.
- Arm in Arm
Arm In Arm is a place where people in need connect with those who want to help. The organization believes that securing basic needs is a necessary step to more lasting self-sufficiency. Together, Arm in Arm's professional staff members, experienced volunteers, and community partners provide integrated services in hunger prevention and food security, homelessness prevention and housing stability, and workforce development, helping people improve their economic circumstances and well-being. With effective, integrated services, Arm in Arm creates positive change across its community. In fiscal year 2020 that change included:
- 25,205 food pantry and Mobile Pantry visits, and home food deliveries made;
- 258 evictions were prevented;
- 80 utility shut offs were avoided;
- 56 security deposits were paid;
- 14 households received Housing Stability Case Management services;
- 213 clients received Representative Payee services;
- 15 community members jumpstarted their careers with support to gain employment;
- 3 Workforce Development program members attained new jobs; and
- 39 clients gained employment mobility and increased earning power with driver’s license restoration.
Arm in Arm serves a low-income population in Mercer County, NJ, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, religion, or political affiliation. Its comprehensive, integrated services provide a much-needed safety net, even as many households receive benefits such as Social Security, Disability, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, and General Assistance. For these neighbors, Arm in Arm's hunger prevention program regularly makes the difference between having food on the table or not. In an area where healthy food is beyond the reach of many, our hunger prevention program fills the gap with three pantries, Mobile Pantry, and home food delivery service. When the pandemic hit, Arm in Arm's community was disproportionately affected, challenging it to be inventive in assisting those who live with the constant stress of insufficient resources. Forty years of experience positioned the organization to serve a record number of neighbors impacted by COVID-19, and its response was swift and deliberate. Arm in Arm adapted its food delivery model to be more effective and efficient. Neighbors now choose between picking up groceries at its pantries or receiving home delivery. This hybrid system of service reached 4,497 households between July and the end of October.
How to Support
This has been Arm in Arm's most challenging year, as the needs of its community have been exacerbated because of the pandemic. Arm in Arm's food pantries relay on volunteers to help it package and distribute food to neighbors in need. While the organization has revised protocols to maximize safety and social distancing, it has still been challenging for Arm in Arm to engage volunteers to help. Arm in Arm has the following opportunities available:
- Conduct a food drive either in-person by collecting and then dropping off, or visiting givehealthy.org and conducting a virtual food drive;
- Volunteer in one of Arm in Arm's three food pantries to bag and distribute food. Visit https://signup.com/go/riUowmp to sign up;
- Conduct a virtual food drive/bagging event where individuals and groups collect the food, bag it (at their own location) and either deliver it to Arm in Arm, or they pick it up for distribution. For details contact Shariq at firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Fundraising for food: Arm in Arm can create a donation page on our website and customize it specifically for your group, or simply visit arminarm.org/donate to make a donation.
- Mercer Street Friends
Since its founding in 1958, Mercer Street Friends (MSF) has grown into a multi-faceted human services agency that works to address food, family and education by reducing hunger and food insecurity, closing education gaps, improving the physical and emotional well-being of at-risk populations, and aiming to break the cycle of child abuse and neglect.
Through comprehensive programming and community partnership throughout Mercer County, NJ and the greater-Trenton area, Mercer Street Friends offers families support and guidance away from a life of poverty, into a life of self-sufficiency.
How to Support
Mercer Street Friends is accepting monetary donations, non-perishable food items, and welcomes volunteer support. Non-perishable food items include items such as:
- Tuna, chicken, and salmon
- Fruits and vegetables
- Pasta and rice
For information on volunteering please visit: https://mercerstreetfriends.org/volunteer-opportunities/. Questions? Call 609-278-5547.
- Princeton Period Project
Since 2018 the Princeton Period Project -- part of the Princeton Cornerstone Community Kitchen at the Princeton United Methodist Church -- has been helping girls and women obtain a reliable supply of period products. Princeton Period Project distributes these products to a variety of agencies and outlets in Princeton, Lawrence and Trenton, NJ.
It may be hard to imagine but there are girls and women who are inconvenienced, embarrassed, miss school or work, and face health risks because they don't always have the period products they need. There's an easy way to help: you can order a wide variety of period products from the organization's Amazon registry and they'll get to the girls and women who need them.
How to Support
- ReThink Theatrical
ReThink Theatrical provides free and accessible storytelling to local communities. With an educational and creative approach, it produces professional quality theater for everyone. ReThink Theatrical's work is audience-driven. it believes in putting old classics and brand new stories into creative spaces. It opens new pathways for people to feel the magic of live performance -- even if you don't consider yourself a "theater person."
In the next phase of its growth as an organization, ReThink Theatrical is committed to reclaiming the meaning of “Community Theater.” ReThink Theatrical will be active in redefining community theater as a space of radical empathy; a space for people of all identities to see themselves respected and celebrated; a space where high-level decision making is given back to the people as a collective; and a space where storytelling fosters healthy creativity, learning, and expression.
ReThink Theatrical is working to build enough revenue in 2021 to compensate every creative who works for the organization this year -- writers, producers, directors, designers, stage managers, and of course performers. This is a crucial step in building pathways to the arts for many people in the community. Most community theaters do not pay their creative teams -- ReThink Theatrical is working diligently to be one of the first in the state of New Jersey to do so.
How to Support
All of the money ReThink Theatrical raises from individual donors during the month of January 2021 will go directly into the hands of local artists as they make every effort to rebound from the effects of COVID-19 on their livelihood. If you are encouraged by the idea of community theater being driven by radical empathy, ReThink Theatrical hopes you will consider giving to our organization so that we can keep moving forward. Make a donation online. Questions? Contact Stephanie Van Bond at email@example.com.