Ariana DeMattei, a 7th grader at Westhampton Beach Middle School, is planning a community fundraiser to help reach a personal goal of filling 150 backpacks with school supplies for area elementary school students in need by September.
The event, which is co-sponsored by HUGS of Westhampton Beach, is being marketed as a spring splash at Rogers Beach on April 7.
DeMattei and HUGS Director Kym Laube were at the Westhampton Beach Village Board meeting last week to obtain approval to use the beach, saying the event aims to bring the community together and has the potential to become an annual affair.
"We want to create a sense of community," said Laube.
The event, said Laube, will run between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. with plunges taking place in increments.
Community members can take the plunge in teams or individually and will be awarded prizes for largest team, best costumes and first team in the water.
Music for the event is also being lined up including, a steel drum band, called Steeldrumania. There will also be beverages donated by Hampton Coffee, facepainting and fire trucks for the kids to explore.
For those who agree to take the plunge, there is a $25 participation fee and spectators will be charged $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Village Board members were impressed with the idea and are poised to approve it at their March meeting.
Trustee Ralph Urban said, "Leave it to a young person to create a vision."
DeMattei hopes that money raised through the event will help defray the costs of filling the backpacks. Already, she has garnered numerous donations from a wish list on Amazon.com that she created.
Community members can log on and purchase items like crayons, glue sticks, pencil cases, markers, pencils, pens, and notebooks. The items will then be shipped directly to DeMattei.
She has also received donations through the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, which has agreed to accept donations her behalf.
DeMattei, said she decided to take on the project, which she calls Backpacks for Fellow Students (BFFS), as part of her upcoming Bat Mitzvah.
"As part of preparing for becoming a Bat Mitzvah, one is encouraged to do a Mitzvah Project, a charitable act, an act of human kindness," she told Patch earlier this month. "Children and education are important to me."
DeMattei said 120 of the backpacks will be distributed to Westhampton Beach Elementary School students and 30 to East Hampton students whose families are suffering the effects of the economy.
- Seventh Grader Looks to Help Fellow Students With Backpack Fundraiser
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