Each week, I like to spotlight the work of someone or a group of people that make life just a little bit better here in New Jersey and across the land.

It’s just when you think there’s no hope for humankind that you hear these stories that bring your spirits up.

And that’s especially true when it comes to the youths of today. We oftentimes think that most are self-absorbed with their heads in their iPhones or playing video games, when the truth is a good many are out in the community doing God’s work.

Recently 20 students were recognized for their outstanding work in the community by New Jersey’s First Lady Mary Pat Christie as part of the New Jersey Heroes Program.
The 20 will receive scholarships of 5 thousand dollars each.

Now, I’ll admit, I’m a little biased since I happen to know the parents of one of the kids:

A Manalapan High School student was one of 20 students recognized by First Lady Mary Pat Christie with a $5,000 New Jersey Heroes Spirit of a Hero scholarship at Drumthwacket on Thursday, May 30. Christie announced a total of $100,000 in scholarships during the ceremony at the Governor’s official residence in Princeton.

The 20 scholarships help students pursue post-secondary education opportunities. The program was launched in February.

More than 700 students applied for the scholarships.

Here is a partial list of the winners:

Ellen Bridget Carpinelli, Summit Public High School, has volunteered for Bridges Outreach for the past 4 years, assisting in preparing and delivering meals to the homeless in Newark every Friday night.

Jordan Chervin, Manalapan High School, who’s mom and dad I know, has volunteered at The Manor at Centra State Hospital for more than 2 years, where she assists Alzheimer’s and dementia residents with arts and crafts and spends time watching football with them.

James Cooper Itkoff, Princeton High School, For the past 8 years, James has volunteered his time for Princeton Special Sports, mentoring and teaching children with developmental differences how to play sports.

Anish Kumar, Bridgewater-Raritan Regional High School, who started the “Healing Notes” musical group, which recruits high school musicians to play for patients at Somerset Medical Center and Richard Hall Community Mental Health Center.

Zaire Martin, MetEast High School, (co-founded the “Child of Mine” Mentoring Group, where he serves as a role model for troubled boys by mentoring them to improve their grades, play sports and become responsible young men.

Alicia Irene Mitchko, Hamilton High School, (Hamilton, Mercer County). When Alicia’s uncle was stationed in Iraq, she worked with family and friends in her Girl Scout troop to start the “Sweets for Soldiers” initiative for volunteers to bake cookies and decorate tins to send to deployed troops. Alicia has been administering the “Sweets for Soldiers” project for the past 6 years.

Christopher Stone, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, (Fanwood ,Union County). After a child from a local family in his community was diagnosed with cancer, Chris became involved in his high school’s “Student Movement Against Cancer” (SMAC) club, where he has helped raise nearly $200,000 to fight cancer.

And here’s last year’s first winner:

If you know of someone that you feel would qualify for props as a “Ray of Hope – Posse Positive Person(s) of the Week, feel free to drop me a line here.