“We the People”, Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur Hosts 4th Annual MLK Day of Service
PARAMUS – On Monday, January 20, 2020 “We the People,” a non-profit organization founded by Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur, hosted its 4th annual MLK Day of Service at Bergen Community College in Paramus. Over 600 middle school students (5th-8th grade) and 100 teen leader volunteers attended the event, the largest attendance of any of the organization’s events to date. Also in attendance were First Lady Tammy Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, NJ State Assemblypeople Lisa Swain and Chris Tully, County Executive James J. Tedesco, Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella, and Freeholders Mary Amoroso and Steve Tanelli. We the People also hosted a satellite site for approximately ___ elementary school students in Fort Lee.
“We had an incredible turnout this year, as we brought together students in service and in remembrance of Dr. King’s legacy,” said Zur. “It’s truly heartwarming to see so many students from so many different backgrounds not only working together to help those in need, but forming new friendships in the process. My favorite part of this event every year is when students begin the day wary of seeing so many new faces, end the same day exchanging phone numbers with new friends from other groups.”
The students worked on a number of projects:
- 277 no-sew blankets, donated to Project Linus and residents at New Bridge Medical Center
- 544 hygiene kits donated to the Bergen County Homeless Shelter and 166 to Oasis in Paterson
- 436 welcome bags for children fleeing domestic violence and in the foster care system, donated to Center for Hope & Safety, Bergen and Passaic CASA, and other law enforcement and faith-based organizations
- 93 placemats donated to Meals on Wheels to accompany food deliveries to seniors
- 303 letters of appreciation to active servicemen and women
- 204 valentines for veterans
- Several large collaborative art murals of Dr. King, donated for display at New Bridge Medical Center
Students also participated in conversation stations, to get to know students from the diverse faiths and backgrounds in attendance and build friendships and bridges between Bergen County’s diverse communities.
Zur started We the People in 2017 as a response to increasingly divisive rhetoric in the nation. We the People has held numerous events on Martin Luther King Day and 9/11 to similarly bring students together in service and to foster community.
“We’ve seen statistics that New Jersey ranks #46 for volunteerism and #3 in hate crimes, which is disturbing considering how diverse our state and county are,” continued Zur. “We hope that by giving our young people a chance to build bridges between our communities and binding them together with the shared goal of serving others, we create a foundation for better understanding each other and a desire to do good deeds to help those that are less fortunate.”
Support for the event came from Bergen Community College, Inserra Supermarkets, and Fuel 4.