Adopt-a-Mountie fundraiser launches for second year to support college-bound seniors
(COURTESY AMINAH TOLER)
Montclair community members are organizing the second annual Adopt-a-Mountie fundraiser, intended to help college-bound students with the cost of furnishing their dorm rooms.
The fundraiser began in the 2021-22 school year, an idea developed by Megan Roberts, Montclair High School Class of 1988, and Aminah Toler, Class of 1989. Roberts and Toler are members of Montclair Mutual Aid.
During the pandemic, Roberts and Toler discussed the challenges facing students headed to college, especially first-generation students, Toler said.
“While we want to see our fellow Mounties go forth and be great, something as simple as not having the money to do a dorm room could keep kids off campus,” she said.
When Toler sent her daughter off to college, she had financial assistance from her parents to help furnish their granddaughter’s dorm room.
“I was fortunate that my parents were able to pitch in and help,” she said. “You get into this dorm room and they don't have nothing – no toiletries, no shower curtain.”
Roberts suggested they start an Adopt-a-Mountie program, similar to an Adopt-a-Family initiative organized by Montclair Mutual Aid.
Working with Roberts’ husband, Daniel Roberts, Montclair High School PTA leader Donna Montague and Councilor-at-Large Peter Yacobellis, Megan Roberts and Toler created a GoFundMe and an Amazon wish list. Interested parties could visit the list to order a specific item or donate a lump sum.
The group also distributed applications for the supplies, asking seniors for proof of Montclair residency, acceptance to a college or university as a full-time student and plans to live on campus.
Within 17 days, the fundraiser received 83 donations and raised more than $7,500.
“In Montclair, we pride ourselves on being a proud community enriched in diversity and helping one another,” Toler said. “This is just another example of appreciation.”
The group used the donations to create 20 dorm kits for the college-bound seniors, fitted with laundry bags, hangers, power strips and more.
“I still like to think that this town has a very good community feel and help-thy-neighbor feel,” Toler said. “It seems to work, so we said why not do it again?”
The 2023 fundraiser launched March 22 with a goal of $6,500. The plan is to build 16 kits, Toler said.
As of Monday, the fundraiser had 46 donations, totaling $3,021.
Yacobellis said: “These kids worked really hard through a pandemic, economic turmoil, anxieties about American gun violence in schools and much more. When you do all that and get yourself into college, I think you deserve a little help.”
Yacobellis, who shared the GoFundMe link in his April 12 community newsletter, thanked the Montclair community for pitching in to the cause.
“Montclair is a compassionate community where ‘It takes a village’ is part of our DNA,” he said.
The kits are distributed on a first-come basis, based on when applications are submitted. Applications have been distributed by the Montclair High School PTA and on Facebook pages for different clubs at the school.
Students interested in receiving a kit can email email@example.com for an application. Applications are due June 2, applicants will be notified by June 9, and dorm kits will be distributed on June 16.
The Adopt-a-Mountie group is also partnering with Laptop Upcycle, which will work to provide laptops for college-bound students in need. Contact Laptop Upcycle at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about receiving a laptop.
Toler has kept in touch with two of the students who received kits last school year. She checks in periodically to hear how classes are going and how the freshmen, both first-generation college students, are doing mentally, she said.
“They're really doing well,” she said. “It's nice to think that we helped contribute to their success on some level.”