In our last post we said that we would highlight the ways that jaZams has been reaching out to support others in our community that have been profoundly affected by the pandemic.
While we are aware that COVID-19 has had a significant effect on all our lives, there are folks in our community that have felt those effects in much more pronounced ways. It has been a core principle of our work during these difficult times that we would focus on ways that we can help make a difference in the lives of folks in need.
Early in the pandemic when many businesses were starting GoFundMe accounts we were approached by some wonderful customers asking if they could donate money to jaZams. We did not feel comfortable taking the funds so we asked if they would be interested in using the money to buy books for children in need. They agreed and we got to work.
We contacted our friends at Princeton Public Schools and asked if they would help us get books and some small toys into the hands of kids on the free-and-reduced-cost lunch program. The donor would buy the books from jaZams and we would donate an additional 20% to supplement the donations. As we spread the word about the program, more donors came aboard and the program expanded to all elementary schools.
Soon after, we partnered with our friends at Labyrinth Books and they acquired more donations. In collaboration with Labyrinth, we now can say that we will be able to get books to all the kids in need throughout the district from elementary through middle school. If we are able to acquire more funding we will expand the program to the High School.
Our second project was in response to our understanding of how the pandemic was making many in our community profoundly food insecure. We started our "5for5 Discount" program. When a customer made a purchase they would receive 5% off their order and jaZams would match the discount with a donation to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). The program generated over $700 for TASK.
The most recent program we became involved with is the Mr. Rogers Neighborhood Kindness Project. This project revolves around a "Free Store" where customers in need can come and get food, toiletries, books & toys for children and more. All items are free and customers can take what they need - no questions asked. jaZams' customers bought more than 100 books for distribution at the Free Store. jaZams supplemented with dozens more that we donated, as well as lots of small toys for the kids.
At jaZams we understand how important community is. Our community has taken care of us through good times and bad. We know we will only make it through this if we keep the circle going. We encourage every customer of ours that has the resources to reach out to a person or group that might need your assistance at this time. Together we can come through these troubling times better and stronger.
The book donation program for kids in need with Princeton Public Schools continues. If you would like to donate to that project please contact Joanne Farrugia at 609.924.8697. Or, if you would like to donate a book to the Free Store on Witherspoon St. click here... Book for a Child in Need