Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Woodcliff Lake Nonprofit Run by Teens Aids Needy Families

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Woodcliff Lake Nonprofit Run by Teens Aids Needy Families

Article excerpt

WOODCLIFF LAKE -- For years the Char family has donated Christmas gifts to struggling families in Bergen and Passaic counties through a holiday charity run by home health-care service Valley Home Care.

But as sisters Alexa and Emily Char helped wrap presents for last year's recipients, they were struck by the family's wish list, which consisted of basic everyday needs.

"They asked for things like toilet paper and bath towels, which made us wonder what they need the other 11 months of the year if this is what they want for Christmas," said Alexa, a 16-year-old junior at Pascack Hills High School who plays tennis and participates in community service projects like Project Paterson.

Seeing a need in the community, the girls created Project Hearts to Homes, a nonprofit that provides necessities such as shampoo, bottles and diapers for premature babies, as well as other household basics such as detergent and toilet paper.

"It dawned on us how we're really fortunate to be growing up like this," said Emily, a 15-year-old freshman who attends the prestigious Dwight-Englewood School, where she is involved in Model UN and plays lacrosse.

"We know there are more families just like the one we had," Alexa said. "We felt we had to step up and do something."

And so the sisters got to work.

First, they created a tax-deductible nonprofit in the spring.

They then went to Valley Home Care to discuss their mission with the staff, who suggested their help could go a long way with families of premature infants, who face costly medical bills and often fall under financial hardship.

They spent the summer emailing their parents' contacts to notify them of their nonprofit, speaking to their peers at summer camps, putting together their social media sites and a website, and setting up an account for donations.

"They're relentless," mom Felice Char said of her daughters.

Donations started coming in when the website went live in August.

Since then, $18,455 has been raised. The largest lump sum contribution was $2,500, from Valley National Bank.

So far the girls have put together more than 50 packages, each containing diapers, shampoo, detergents, baby wipes, bibs, sippy cups and more packed into a laundry basket. …

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