By Emily Stellakis, Editor-in-Chief (‘20)

In an effort to support FLOW area restaurants and healthcare professionals at nearby hospitals, the IHHS Varsity Club and Parent Athletic Committee have spearheaded a successful community-wide fundraiser, providing over 1,500 meals and 600 care packages to local healthcare workers. Through this meal drive, which has already raised over $11,600 and counting, the Indian Hills community has been able to show support and appreciation to those on the frontline through donations to surrounding health care facilities like Valley Hospital, Hackensack University Medical Center, and Holy Name Medical Center.

ih fundraiser

Along with hundreds of packaged meals from favorite local eateries like JD’s Deli, Cafe L’Amore, and Pazza, Indian Hills student volunteers have also gifted handmade care packages, containing valued items like water, snacks, and mints, to hospital staff in need.

Since the fundraiser’s start on April 15th, IHHS students, staff, and families have contributed thousands of dollars to support healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19, with the FLOW community rallying together to raise over $4,000 in just the first 24 hours of the fundraiser. While serving as a great show of support to those hard at work during this crisis, the donations received from this fundraiser and the dedication of student volunteers is also representative of the unwavering unity of the Indian Hills student body, even amid this challenging time.

healthcare workers with donated meals

“If you told me three and a half weeks ago that we would’ve raised over ten thousand dollars, I would’ve laughed, but it is so nice to see the IHHS community pull together during these tough times. It is truly amazing,” said Victoria Enright, the Indian Hills senior that initiated this fundraiser and has coordinated the dozens of meal deliveries to local health care facilities.

The idea for this community-wide fundraiser originated from Indian Hills senior and Varsity Club president, Victoria Enright, who sought to give back to the local health care professionals who work around the clock providing vital care to COVID-19 patients. This act of service started first with Enright making care packages of baked goods and inspirational messages for her neighbor who is a hospital worker, but as the virus began to intensify in Northern New Jersey, Enright decided to join forces with the Indian Hills Parent Athletic Committee and Varsity Club to help grow her vision into a large-scale fundraiser. 

“My neighbor from Hackensack mentioned how the days have become long and grueling for the hospital personnel. Also, she said it is heartbreaking to watch colleagues be put on ventilators because of their selflessness and acts of courage to save others, or how people walk in with shortness of breath then suddenly crash and need to be placed on a ventilator then die a few days later,” said Victoria Enright regarding what inspired her to create this fundraiser.  “I knew I wanted to help out in some way. I started making baked goods for my neighbors to take into the hospital. I thought, even if this puts a smile on the face of one of the workers after a tough day, all the effort and cost of food supplies are well worth it.”

After partnering with members of the Varsity Club and Parent Athletic Committee, Enright has facilitated donations to numerous deserving hospitals and health care facilities in the area, including recent deliveries to smaller-scale providers like Christian Health Care Center Nursing Home in Wyckoff and the Oakland Senior Care Center, in addition to hotspots like Hackensack UMC and Valley Hospital. Along with hundreds of hot meals from local businesses such as Uncle Louie’s Pizza in Franklin Lakes and Cafe L’Amore in Oakland, these dedicated volunteers have also assembled care packages for frontline workers, filled with items like cookies, mints, candies, and inspirational notes. This fundraiser has not only benefited the hospital workers on the receiving end of these donations, but this act of service has also brought much-needed business to local restaurants.

“The donations have a great impact. We initially thought this was all about the healthcare workers, but very quickly realized how much we would be helping local businesses in the FLOW area by making large purchases during these tough times.  The businesses are very appreciative that we are using them for our orders,” said Indian Hills teacher and Varsity Club advisor, Mr. Michels.

In this time of uncertainty and fear for many, this fundraiser has provided the Indian Hills community with an outlet to directly give back to the frontline workers who worked tirelessly during this crisis. Though high schoolers may feel helpless in the midst of this pandemic, their contributions to this cause have brought inspiration and comfort to those who deserve it most: dedicated health care workers. “The most rewarding aspect of being personally involved in this fundraiser has been the fact that it has given us a chance to do our part in helping those who need it most during this challenging time. The appreciation we have received from the restaurants and medical personnel has been astounding and exceptionally rewarding,” said PAC treasurer Alla Safir-Krause.

The PAC and Varsity Club hope to continue donating much-needed meals and care packages throughout the duration of the health crisis, and plans for future donations are currently in the works. With COVID-19 still rampant and economic downturn now evident for New Jersey businesses, any support for local restaurants along with dedicated health care workers has a notable impact.

“A few donated dollars can make all the difference, not only for the health and morale of our medical community, but also for many of the struggling families whose businesses are on the line,” said Ms. Safir-Krause.

Indian Hills students, staff, and family members are encouraged to donate to this fundraiser and show support to frontline workers through the following link: https://ihhspac.org/covid-19-fundraiser/