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West Essex High School Field Hockey Team Donates Hot Meals to Local Hospital

April 13, 2020, 12:55 p.m. (ET)

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While the United States and the rest of the world continue to do what they can by staying at home, the West Essex High School field hockey team is safely going the extra mile in their community in North Caldwell, N.J. by raising and donating money and hot meals to local hospitals.

Thinking of ways that West Essex could help make an impact during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, the initiative was sparked by team captain Rebecca Desiderio, whose uncle is a surgeon that rotates through Hackensack Meridian Hospitals throughout the state. After fellow team captains Halle Aschenbach and Alexandra Shizas and head coach Jill Cosse jointly agreed to the idea, the team has raised more than $5,000 so far.
“The message behind our fundraiser is that bringing a community together like West Essex can make such a great impact upon so many lives around us during this time,” said Desiderio. “We believe that one act of kindness can make such a difference in this world. It only takes one change at a time.”
“We wanted to thank the hospital workers for their consistent hard work through this crisis,” added Shizas. “All of us want to help and want to show that we are all in this together. This fundraiser not only represents the constant support of our community but the family we have created through it.”

Aschenbach put together a team video on social media, as well as bingo cards to help spread the word through the team’s network of followers and encouraged donations to the team's Venmo account. The team then used Gencarelli’s in Wayne, N.J. to deliver and organize the first wave of orders. After a successful opening round of donations, West Essex now expanded to team parents, families and their respective employers to keep fundraising going as long as the COVID-19 situation continues. At the same time, West Essex is doing what they can by supporting the local economy by teaming up with small businesses to show their appreciation of health professionals on the front lines.

“The West Essex Field Hockey family as a whole didn’t like the feeling of having to sit in quarantine almost helpless knowing that there were people out there fighting as hard as possible for the rest of us,” commented Aschenbach. “So we decided to organize this fundraiser in hopes that it would show them that their work was not going unrecognized. In addition to that, our community is all so close and it was hard to let the small local restaurants struggle. This fundraiser would be a double benefit to both the local businesses and hospital workers. This is just a small way of giving back to our community and saying thank you to those who are the champions of this battle.”

Cosse is not only proud of her team leaders taking charge of the fundraiser, but also further demonstrating the role of family among the team. To her, the squad is used to fighting and found the perfect way to unite against a new kind of opponent. As she puts it, love is worth the work when family is involved.

“We are blessed because our whole community here at West Essex rallied to support our girls and their mission,” said Cosse. “Family is what we do best here - my players are part of my family, and we share our extended families with each other. We are lucky to have each other. We wanted to share our love and gifts with anyone who needed it. We believe that no matter who we are, and how we are affected by this, we can all find a small way to help someone. It’s why we play sports.”

A second delivery was successfully completed this past Friday. The entire West Essex Field Hockey family is continuing to support emergency rooms, doctors, nurses and all supporting staff during this time of uncertainty. Additionally, they wish to continue to provide meals twice a week through local businesses such as Genarelli’s and IL Panino Italian Deli and Catering in Fairfield, N.J. Any donations to the team’s cause can be sent to the team Venmo, @wefieldhockey.

While Coach Cosse and West Essex wait for the all clear to return to their regular routines, these community contributions help keep positivity flowing. Do you have a similar story you wish to share in your community? Email yours to for a chance to be featured.