First Financial Foundation Awards Classroom Grant to Cedar Drive Middle School

Press Release

(Pictured above L to R: First Financial’s President/CEO and VP of Marketing and Business Development, Grant recipient Mrs. Sara Campbell, Middle school student Harry Strack, and Mrs. Lori Press).

FREEHOLD, N.J. – Colts Neck’s Cedar Drive Middle School handicap teacher, Sara Campbell, was recently surprised by members of the First Financial Foundation with a $416.77 Erma Dorrer classroom grant for the 2019-2020 school year. Mrs. Campbell has been an elementary school teacher for 14 years, and recently began teaching students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at the middle school level.

Campbell submitted a grant application to purchase equipment for the school’s Colts Cafe. The grant money will be used to continue to change the culture of the school – one snack at a time, through service and vocational skills. Using an old technology cart, a small group of Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Lori Press’ students started selling snacks and coffee to teachers at the school. This went over so well with the teachers, the idea was suggested to also begin selling snacks to students at the school. The classroom grant awarded will go toward purchasing commercial quality popcorn machines, popcorn, scoops, popcorn seasoning, and popcorn distribution bags.

“When we began to sell coffee and treats to the teachers, our students gained self-confidence and found a place in a community where they had been living on the outskirts,” said Campbell. “They became of service, they found a purpose. And a community found something they didn’t know they were missing.”

(Pictured above L to R: Cedar Drive Middle School Principal Mr. Colin Rigby, Mrs. Sara Campbell, student Harry Strack, and Mrs. Lori Press).

Since First Financial began with a group of Asbury Park schoolteachers back in 1936, the credit union has not forgotten its educational roots. That is why its Foundation offered current Monmouth and Ocean County educators seven (7) classroom grants to use at their schools for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Education has and always will be a pivotal piece of our organization, and we’re delighted to be able to help our local educators enhance their classroom experience,” said First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

Stephan also noted that the Foundation committee had a tough job of choosing just seven winning teachers out of the numerous applications received this year. “We received double the amount of classroom grant entries this year, which included heartwarming essays and videos from educators hoping to use the grant money to implement or maintain a variety of creative programs within their schools,” said Stephan. “We wish we were able to reward each and every one of our participants, and after extremely careful consideration we selected the seven initiatives in which we felt the grant money would have the largest impact.”

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