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Centenary University students trade sunbathing for service

Community engagement doesn’t end with final exams for these Centenary University students, who spent time serving others this summer.

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) —Centenary University students traded sunbathing for service this summer, volunteering their time to participate in community-based projects to benefit underserved and at-risk populations, as well as the Hackettstown business community.

The initiatives support the University’s broader mission to be the intellectual, economic, and cultural heart of the Skylands region.

In late July, a group of incoming first-year students who were on campus for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Summer 2022 Academic Enrichment Program delivered breakfast, clothing, and toiletries to homeless residents in New York City through Midnight Run, an organization that seeks to promote common ground between the housed and the homeless.

As part of Breakfast Run, the Centenary students organized and packed clothing and toiletries, set up tables in New York, and distributed the goods, as well as bagels, muffins, fruit, coffee, tea, and orange juice donated by Centenary’s food service provider, Sodexo. Kathleen Greco, the University’s community engagement coordinator, watched as one Centenary student literally gave the shirt off her back to a homeless woman who was disappointed because she arrived after all the t-shirts had been given out. “Centenary students are extraordinary,” Greco said.

In August, members of Enactus, Centenary’s competitive business team, also hosted an online presentation on maximizing social media for the Hackettstown Business Improvement District (BID), sharing their expertise to enhance opportunities for local businesses. In addition, members of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity participated in the annual Caterpillar Walk for Fibromyalgia in Newark’s Branch Brook Park earlier this summer to honor the mother of a fraternity brother.

During the 2021-2022 academic year, 461 Centenary students donated 2,486 hours of service at 68 different sites. Greco estimated the volunteer hours generated approximately $44,000 in economic value for the local community. Twenty student organizations represented Centenary at service opportunities throughout the academic year. They include the University’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), sororities and fraternities, the Honors Program, athletic teams, and Enactus.

Through their volunteer efforts, Centenary students support national organizations like Dress for Success, as well as local nonprofits such as the Trinity Church food pantry in Hackettstown.

“Centenary University students, as well as faculty and staff, are always willing to work with campus and community partners. Our goal is to create meaningful change and help to make our community—and the world—a better place,” Greco said.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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