In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destructive sweep through New Jersey in late October, a group of Princeton Theological Seminary students—the Community Action Network—coordinated a number of hurricane relief efforts to help those suffering in their immediate and surrounding community. Among those efforts was a fundraiser to help support HomeFront, an organization in Mercer County, New Jersey, dedicated to providing those living on the poverty line with essential services and emergency relief. With many hourly employees having lost a week’s worth of wages due to the storm and in danger of falling behind on rent and utility payments, HomeFront and the Princeton CAN sought to provide those women and men and their families with financial assistance to help them remain in their housing. Calculating that a monthly rent payment in the area costs approximately $900, CAN committed to raising $10,000 before Thanksgiving—that is, enough money to keep approximately ten families in their homes. HomeFront_300w.jpg

With the promise that whatever funds they raised would be matched by a generous donor, the Community Action Network got to work brainstorming creative ways to raise funds and spread the word. The results were surprising. In addition to setting up a place on their web site in which individuals could directly donate to the HomeFront Hurricane Relief Fund, CAN furthermore encouraged Seminary students working in field education placements to share the fundraising effort with their congregations and even provided a script for students to use to make personal videos describing the fundraising effort that they could then share with their congregations and/or advertise on Youtube. Equally creative, two Seminary students and a Seminary spouse ran in a 5K in Camden, New Jersey, on December 1 and raised $1,500 for HomeFront through online and personal sponsorships. As a result of these dedicated fundraising efforts, the Seminary community managed to raise approximately $13,000, which will in turn be matched by a generous outside donor.

In an effort to thank all those members of the Seminary community who helped raise funds to support HomeFront in its ongoing mission to serve those living on the poverty line, HomeFront will be hosting a celebratory event on Friday, December 14, from noon to 1:00 p.m. in the Main Lounge of Mackay Campus Center. A light lunch will be served, followed by a brief address from the head director and case manager at Homefront, who will be directing the funds raised. The Community Action Network and the HomeFront staff encourage everyone to attend the event. As Amanda Huels, a junior M.Div. student and one of the CAN members who helped direct the fundraising, states, “The only reason this [fundraiser] was successful is because people outside Princeton CAN got involved. That’s why it’s really important that the whole community is thanked. Because they all helped make it happen.”

For those still interested in assisting HomeFront, donations can still be made to the Hurricane Relief Fund on Princeton CAN’s web site. Moreover, students interested in getting involved in CAN’s various service opportunities and partnerships can visit the group’s Facebook page for weekly updates on various needs within the community.

Speaking on behalf of Princeton CAN and HomeFront, Huels summarizes the feelings of both organizations: “We’re really thrilled that the Princeton community responded so well to an opportunity to be engaged in service with the community. This has been a great demonstration of how the Seminary community can be in partnership with the work that’s already happening in the community to bring about God’s kingdom. We would like to keep this momentum going so that students can see CAN as a way to be actively engaged in service.”