by Caleigh Farragher
Every day children our age, and oftentimes younger, wake up to nothing. They do not have enough food to eat, clean clothes to wear, or in some cases a school to go to. While this may paint a bleak picture, it is unfortunately all too familiar for many in communities across the country. Many people think that the less fortunate only exist in faraway third world countries. However, it is prevalent everywhere, even within Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Two Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School students, Abby Cooner (junior) and Gianna Maita (senior) have realized the poverty and troubles in our area, and want to expose it and put a stop to it. Cooner and Maita started the Social Justice Club here at RFH to raise awareness and encourage students to do their part to combat various pressing issues in the area.
Co-advised by Ms. Burke, Mr. Beatty, and Mrs. Deremiah, the Social Justice club has lofty goals that they work hard to achieve. Twice each month, this club meets and devotes its time to the discussion of a certain community issue. First they discuss the topic, and then at a subsequent meeting will create a plan of action. Their plan is then put into action at community and global levels. Some of the topics that have been discussed and will be discussed are; hunger, poverty, woman’s rights, free trade, and environmental issues.
The club is recently posted red stop signs throughout the school that display facts about poverty in the area. Coined the STOP campaign (Social Justice Takes On Poverty), Cooner and Maita wish to promote this type of community awareness because many students at RFH do not realize how lucky they are, or that these issues hit closer to home than they think.
“We want students to not only be aware of the magnitude of the poverty, but also to see that it affects people right by us,” Cooner commented.
The club began as an idea derived from Cooner and Maita’s camping experience at Justiceworx. Maita first attended this summer camp and had a life-changing experience at the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. She said that after this work she “really wanted to start something.” Gianna decided to return to Justiceworx, and brought Cooner along with her. Maita warned Cooner that after having an experience like this that she would want to do something, too.
“Rumson and Fair Haven are sort of anomalies in New Jersey; not all high schoolers are quite as lucky as we are, with a good education in a safe environment. Not all of them even have enough food or a place to live, never mind any education at all. We want to make sure that the rest of RFH is as aware of that as we are,” commented Maita.
Cooner and Maita also hope that this club will affect its members in the long run. Gianna said, “When members of Social Justice Club grow up and become people with college educations or jobs to support their families or both, they will still be aware of what they discussed in Social Justice Club.”
These two students and the club hope to positively impact people’s lives and make a difference; don’t you?