Jersey City residents can make a positive impact on the community at any age. Just ask 11-year-old Emery Hofmann, a fifth-grade student at Jersey City’s Dr. Michael Conti Public School No. 5, and her two best friends, Liza Farrell and Scarlett McNamara, the young students behind the school’s Food for Love Food Drive that ran in February. 

With the help of five student volunteers, Hofmann, Farrell, and McNamara were able to collect close to 250 pounds of food from school classrooms. In early March, the donations were delivered to the Hope House emergency shelter for women and children. 

Scarlett McNamara, Emery Hofmann and Liza Farrell
Left to right: Scarlett McNamara, Emery Hofmann and Liza Farrell

Hofmann was inspired to take action and enlist the help of her friends and fellow students because of what she was seeing in her community. “When I’m driving or even just walking by, it’s practically impossible to turn a corner without seeing an unhoused person,” she said. “They all look tired, hungry, cold, sleep deprived, and most of all, they all look like they’ve lost hope. I hate seeing people like that, never a sign of a smile on their faces. This was and is my empowerment to try and do whatever I can to help those in need.”

Emery’s father, Eric Hofmann, explained that his daughter “did this on her own accord, and we of course supported her.” The three girls divided up responsibilities amongst themselves and coordinated their effort with the school’s administration. “It was quite an impressive undertaking,” he added.

Emery credits her school counselor, Ms. Santiago, for her support of the project, saying “She was extremely helpful with scheduling and working out times and dates for collecting, announcement, and delivering the donations. We [couldn’t] have accomplished this without her.”

When asked if she would be organizing similar projects in the future, Emery said yes. “I am going to try to hold a food drive for the homeless every year around Christmas time and other times during the year as well. I will also try to start volunteering at other organizations as well to make as much of a difference as I can.”

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Emily Scott

Emily was born and raised in New Jersey, and graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in architecture. She has a background in design, public health, radio, and comedy.