BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Fairview Elementary School Principal Ginamarie Mignone believes in the importance of casting bread upon the waters — to act in kindness and generosity without thought of receiving anything in return — and to teach children this lesson.
Earlier this year, in an effort to plant 4,000 U. S. flags on the Bloomfield High School lawn for Memorial Day, fulfilling a dream of BHS history teacher Peg Sullivan, Mignone’s students raised $1,900 for 1,900 flags. This past Saturday, July 20, it was her twins, a boy and a girl, Franki Rose and Arthur, who learned the value of giving from the heart when they presented a check for $1,000 to the nonprofit Supporters of the Bloomfield Animal Shelter.
Much of the money had been raised at the children’s fifth birthday party. Guests had been asked to come with a small donation for the nonprofit in lieu of a present. Leading up to the party, Mignone spoke to her children.
“We had a conversation about being blessed,” she said at the shelter on Saturday. “We have so many toys and there are animals without a mommy or a daddy. Every day we talked about it so they wouldn’t forget.”
At first her children thought their friends would be bringing toys for the animals to the party, Mignone said with a broad smile. But then they understood and liked the idea.
“It’s important for children to learn sympathy,” she said. “And they didn’t miss the gifts.”
The party was held June 22 at Grover Cleveland Park in Caldwell. Forty children attended and $860 was donated. Some parents wanted their children to make a donation and come with a gift but Mignone said no.
“I wanted my kids to sacrifice something,” she said. “It was all about giving to the animal shelter.”
She posted a story on Facebook afterward about the party. Someone she knew from BHS whom she had not seen in years read the post and dropped a check for $140 into her mailbox, making the total sum an even grand. Mignone was not at home at the time but was able to reconnect with that long-lost friend.
“It’s a good feeling to give back,” she said.
Mignone grew up in Bloomfield and the shelter has always been a part of her life. But she grew up without pets.
Now her parents have two poodles and her children love them. Mignone believes the story about the twins’ birthday party may speak to a larger audience.
“I think if other people see this, they might do something close to the heart,” she said.
The Supporters of the Bloomfield Animal Shelter financially assist the shelter which is funded by the township. Ana Blanco, a member of the nonprofit group, said it costs between $3,000 and $7,000 to place an unadoptable dog into a sanctuary.
In addition to Bloomfield, the shelter cares for animals from Glen Ridge, Caldwell and Nutley. Anyone wishing information about the nonprofit may email: SOBASNJ@ gmail.com. The Bloomfield Animal Shelter, officially the John A. Bukowski Shelter for Animals, is a nonkill shelter.
Photos by Daniel Jackovino