In the summer of 2016 , Lexi Santitoro brought the idea of collecting school supplies for children in need to a youth ministry group board meeting in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral Parish, Freehold.
The group immediately got behind “Supplies for Scholars” to help make the program a reality. The goal was to ensure that elementary school kids from Freehold Borough and Township had the adequate tools they would need to become scholars.
For the second year in a row – the parish’s youth ministry, with the help from Santitoro’s brother, Vincent – is not only collecting school supplies, they are attracting the attention of other groups in the community to partner on the project.
In recognition of the good work, two representatives from the Knights of Columbus Council 1672 presented a $500 check to Santitoro and the teens during the youth ministry meeting Oct. 1. The money will be spent on school supplies for the outreach program.
Jeanne Marinello, parish youth group coordinator, said all were overwhelmed and appreciative by the donation.
“This is an example how a program becomes a legacy,” she said, explaining how Santitoro, as a senior, is passing the torch of service to her younger brother. “Lexi inspires all the youth group kids to bring their ideas to the group and help start projects that help others.”
“We are a very fortunate parish because all of the members of the youth group, and our parishioners, for that matter, have that spirit and heart to give back. It is amazing to watch year after year,” she added.
The donation wasn’t the only surprise the evening had in store, however. Parishioner Margaret Salvatore , whose sons are in the youth group and whose daughter is in Girl Scout Troop 539, presented Santitoro with backpacks full of school supplies the troop collected for the program.