Compassion is what drove Thomas Foreman toward a mission he’s now fully committed.
One summer ago, Foreman was reading online about the African nation of Tanzania and how its people — children and adults alike — were suffering from malaria caused by mosquito bites.
What the Flemington native came up with — assisted by his mother Janine and father Jim — was ‘Tackles4Tanzania,” a non-profit foundation with the objective of helping impoverished regions of the country. He and his teammates pledged from a penny to a dime to a dollar for every solo tackle they made last season. They raised $3,300 and want to double it this year.
“It combines football and helping children in Africa by preventing Malaria,” said Foreman. “Malaria is obviously a very deadly disease and you can get it by being stung by a mosquito. We don’t realize it here, but a mosquito bite in Africa can be deadly.”
A check was sent from Pingry to the United Nations-sponsored ‘NothingButNets,’ program which supplies netting to limit the damage a mosquito can deliver. The nets cost about $10 apiece.
“I read where children were dying from something that was a preventable disease, this was a way to help save children’s lives and I felt strongly about it,” said Foreman.
Every one of Pingry’s 800 students from the 6th grade through 12th grades become very familiar with community service. Seventh through 12th grade students must have completed at least 10 hours of community service by May 1 of the school year. Sixth graders do something too, but as an advisory group and do something every month without the hourly requirement, said Shelley Hartz, who has been director of community service at the school for 10 years.
Foreman’s prior community service project was helping his fourth grade teacher do lesson plans at Francis A. Desmares Elementary School in Flemington..
“The fact that we are a private independent school my sense in my job is that we have a responsibility regardless of how your (a student) here at Pingry, we have a responsibility to give back to the larger community,’ said Hartz. “Every student that walks through this door is privileged, he’s privileged to have an education in small classes, with great teachers with lots of opportunities, that in itself is one of the reasons why the students do have responsibility so that they are aware of the old adage to ‘ those who have much much is expected.’
“And when I say much I don’t mean economically’ much,’ I’m talking about much in a school environment,’ she added.
Hartz said that she expects Pingry students to come up with great ideas, to think ‘outside the box.
“We have kids coming in every single day that are looking for ways to help one group or another,” she said. “I have that expectation from Pingry students that they take what they are learning, take what they are passionate about and figure out ways to use that passion to give back to the larger community. In Thomas’ case its a perfect example, he was passionate about football, so something clicked with him, he heard something and and he thought in this way I can use my passion to help others.”
Any student that wants to do a community service project on Pingry’s campus or involve the school needs to meet with Hartz to brainstorm, and “take ownership of it,” she said.
“Once the money is raised they need to write a cover letter that goes along with the check from Pingry, to let the organization know who they are, how they raised the money, why they chose to do it,” said Hartz, adding that students who do community service off campus need to write a “reflection letter” then submitted to Hartz who review the hours.