The Weilenbeck Fund is named after a former teacher and guidance counselor at Cinnaminson High School, who then became a school social worker with the Cinnaminson Child Study team.
With her fellow social worker, Marita Mattei, Jane Weilenbeck would make visits to various students’ families throughout the school year. Weilenbeck and Mattei then realized that many families in Cinnaminson had been struggling financially, and would require support. They then began organizing donations of clothing and food to give to the families. When Weilenbeck and Mattei had finally received financial donations, they opened a bank account for the charity that would then take on the name of the Jane B. Weilenbeck Needy Family Fund, to honor Jane, who had just retired.
When Jane passed away in 1988, Marita trudged onwards, continuing the fund. With the dynamics of families changing as the years passed, there then became too much work for one person to bear. A meeting was held by “Maria’s helpers” in early 1993 to decide how to help. In May of 1993, the Jane B. Weilenbeck Needy Family Fund was sanctioned as a non-profit organization. The Fund continues to grow and has been for the past 26 years.
Adopt-a-Family is a program in which different sports teams, classes, and clubs volunteer to adopt a family in need for the holidays. Each family creates their own wish list with items of their choosing for the volunteer to go out and purchase them for the family. The wish list will usually have clothing sizes and gift ideas for the children. Canned and boxed food is provided, so the volunteers do not have to worry about buying food, in addition to their family’s wish list. Additionally, the Interact Club bakes cookies for the families as well, making about 75-100 dozen cookies in total.
“Many organizations at Cinnaminson High School have adopted families for the holidays,” said Mrs. Bennett, “These families are going through difficult times and may not be able to purchase gifts this holiday season for their families without the support of the wonderful volunteers at CHS.”
Besides just local communities inquiring about Adopt-a-Family, but an Irish heritage group called the Ancient Order of Hibernians was on the search for a good charity to donate to. They ended up donating a few thousand dollars to Cinnaminson High School’s Adopt-a-Family program. The Ancient Order of Hibernians donate a significant amount of money every year to this charity.
The overall concept of Adopt-a-Family really benefits both sides of the charity work. It benefits the families by helping them get what they cannot afford to purchase for Christmas, and it benefits the students and staff that is making it happen by letting them know just how satisfying it is to put a smile on others’ faces. It also shows the younger volunteers that they should feel privileged that they, or their parents, have money to purchase new gifts for the holiday season, and that they will have food on their plate every day. Giving up some of their time is enough to make a difference for those who need it.