Generation Z breaks stereotypes with charity


By Jordan Flusser and Caroline Quinn

Many things have been said about Generation Z that portray them as unmotivated and reliant on others, but despite this stereotype, many young adults today harbor a strong desire to give back to their communities and those around them. All over the country, they’ve been using their voice and getting involved in order to lend a helping hand.

Here at West Essex, students have demonstrated philanthropy in numerous ways. Whether they are urgently rushing to tend to the nearest injury in the back of an ambulance, or spending their free hours with special needs kids, students at West Essex have contradicted the reputation of laziness assumed of the modern-day teens.

Junior Julia Reif has dedicated her time since her freshman year to helping kids and young adults with special needs. She volunteers almost every week at the Friendship Circle, where she has recently become president of the West Essex chapter. The Friendship Circle is an organization that allows teen volunteers to create friendships with special needs children.

“It’s a magical experience,” Reif said. “I play basketball and do all kinds of activities and I love getting to see them have fun. It is really rewarding.”

“There are times when everything like my school work and sports are stressing me out and I don’t think I have the time to go and volunteer, but as soon as I get there I am always glad I went,” Reif said. “It’s so important to be there and say hi to the kids even if it’s just for 15 minutes.”

Many West Essex students are also members of the West Essex First Aid Squad and have gone through training to volunteer and spend their nights and weekends responding to emergency calls. Juniors Sam Rosenberg and Mac Farrell have been members of the squad for almost six months. Sometimes their calls are for common injuries and accidents, and other times they are rushing to the scene of a car crash.

“It feels good to give back to the community,” Sam said. “I like knowing that I’m doing all I can to keep everyone safe.”

Sophomore Amelia Gendel gives back through the local Teen Buddy program. Once a week, Amelia, along with a few other students, travels to West Orange where she works with a group of underprivileged kids. The student volunteers serve as mentors and “buddies” to children in kindergarten through the second grade. The program is open to students in ninth through eleventh grade and is run by Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex along with The Valley Settlement House of Orange, New Jersey. Amelia helps children out with their homework, gives them advice and spends free time with them. She says that these children have opened up her eyes to the conditions of communities outside of West Essex.

“Sometimes I forget that there are kids who are not as lucky as us here at school,” Gendel said. “West Essex is a really fortunate school district and it’s weird to think that there are towns so close that are not the same.”

The students at West Essex have upheld the charitable standard set by this new generation and proven those who say otherwise wrong.

“I think the older generations have us all wrong,” Reif said. “We aren’t just lazy teenagers.”