Middlesex High School has partnered with The Marisa Tufaro Foundation to conduct a children’s coat drive for Hands of Hope during the Blue Jays’ Oct. 20 home football game against Highland Park.
Hands of Hope, a nonprofit that operates out of St. James Episcopal Church in Edison and is committed to providing an efficient and centralized system for distributing food to alleviate hunger in Middlesex County, has also provided coats to children in need throughout the county for the past two decades.
The Marisa Tufaro Foundation’s mission of assisting children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area coincides with that of Hands of Hope.
Spectators attending the contest are invited to donate gently used or new coats, gloves, hats and scarves specifically for children who are infants through age 12.
Volunteers from The Marisa Tufaro Foundation will man two collection boxes for the donated items, one each of which will be set up at the two entrances to Memorial Stadium.
“It will be a tremendous help,” Jackie Goedesky, president and founder of Hands of Hope, said of Middlesex’s children’s coat drive, which will enable her organization to fill a need. “Normally, if we have two pews of girls (coats) and two pews of boys (coats), that’s a lot of coats for us and we need many more.”
Hands of Hope will distribute the coats to Middlesex County children in need at its Edison-based headquarters located on 2136 Woodbridge Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 4, and will make any extra coats available throughout the winter season.
“As a mother and a grandmother, the saddest thing that happens at the food pantry is to have children come in when the temperature is very low and see they are wearing a sweater,” Goedesky said. “It just tugs at your heartstrings. If we don’t have coats and gloves and hats, we have nothing to give them.”
The Blue Jays, who own a 4-1 record with their lone loss an overtime setback to undefeated South River, will have a flurry of activity before and during the game against Highland Park.
In addition to the contest being Senior Night and a Pink Out for cancer awareness, members of the 2017 state championship Middlesex baseball team will receive their rings during a halftime ceremony.
“Middlesex is a great community,” Middlesex High School athletics director Mike O’Donnell said. “They always come together in times of need, and we’ve seen several examples of that. As a community, we are happy to help Hands of Hope, as well as The Marisa Tufaro Foundation, to provide whatever we can to support those in need.”
A nonprofit corporation with tax-exempt status pending, The Marisa Tufaro Foundation was established in loving memory of Marisa Tufaro, the 13-year-old daughter of Middlesex County residents Greg and Cyndi Tufaro, who died earlier this year.
Marisa was born with a complex cardiac defect that required six open-heart surgeries. Despite keeping hundreds of doctor’s appointments and being hospitalized for more than two years, Marisa lived a vibrant life that inspired.
A heart transplant, performed to extend Marisa’s life, tragically cut it short after a post-operative complication developed into a rare form of Stage IV cancer. After radiation and chemotherapy treatments failed to thwart the relentless onslaught of an aggressive disease that riddled her brain and body, Marisa succumbed to her illness in January following a valiant battle.