From Left: Freeholder Linda Carter, Danielle Bracco- Executive Director, Bonds of Courage, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Morris – Executive Officer and Brigade Full Time Officer In Charge, Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, Amy Wagner- Deputy Director, Union County Department of Economic Development
Union County – Union County’s popular student engagement program, UC STEP, kicked off its first service-based initiative, Support 4 Soldiers, last week at the Westfield Armory on Rahway Ave in Westfield.
“The Board is so excited to see the dedication of our students to a project and a cause that not only binds them as a community, but also gives back to the heroes and she-roes who sacrifice themselves to protect our civil liberties,” said Freeholder Linda Carter.
The kick-off event not only provided the opportunity for the participating schools to collect campaign supplies and merchandise, but also the chance to interact with military personnel to learn how soldiers across the country benefit from care packages like those that the Support 4 Soldiers campaign will create. Over 20 schools across the County will be participating in the program by setting up collection boxes in their respective schools.
Lieutenant Colonel Bill Morris, Executive Officer and Brigade Full Time Officer in Charge, thanked the students at the kick-off, and commented on how efforts like S4S go far in boosting moral; reminding everyone that despite the uniform, soldiers are just regular people.
“When this uniform comes off they [soldiers] are regular members of the community just like you,” he said.
Support 4 Soldiers was the winning campaign from the first UC STEP Summit which was held on December 13, 2013. Winning with over 1,800 votes, the large-scale community service project features a partnership with the Board of Chosen Freeholders to collect items to be used in care packages for active military troops at home, and abroad. Also partnering in this endeavor is Bonds of Courage, a non-profit organization supporting troops, veterans and their families to build morale, and to meet needs involving jobs, health, families, and finances.
The campaign also features a point-based competition for the most successful S4S campaign, in which the winning school will receive a $1000 Start Now grant, provided by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.
For more information on UC STEP, or Support 4 Soldiers visit ucnj2.org/uc-step/support-4-soldiers, or follow UC STEP on Facebook and Twitter @UCSTEP.