PLAISTOW — School Resource Officer Joan Marsilia has an appointment for a haircut on Dec. 21, whether she keeps it or not is completely up to Timberlane Regional High School students.
Marsilia has issued a challenge to students. If the students raise $5,000, she will have her head shaved in front of the entire student body.
It is all part of a fundraising series for Mealey’s Meals, which will provide food and other necessities to close to 150 families throughout the district who could use help around the holidays.
All the money goes to families who qualify for the reduced lunch program the school system offers. Guidance counselors and teachers also recommend families who could benefit from extra money at the holidays. Instead of receiving cash, each family will receive gift cards for groceries or gas.
Initially, if the students raised $1,000, several male teachers at the school agreed to have their heads shaved at the annual teacher/student basketball game which happens the day before winter vacation each year.
But Marsilia decided to up the ante.
“That amount of money wasn’t enough,” Marsilia said. “I needed to light a fire under the students so they would be serious about this.”
The goal is now $5,000 and students have right up until the game on Dec. 21 to get the money in.
“I’m happy to do it, but it’s not about me though,” Marsilia said. “It’s about the kids donating money to their fellow students who aren’t as fortunate.”
Mealey’s Meals originated in 1980 when former teacher William Mealey Sr. started collecting money in his Advanced Placement U.S. history class. It quickly expanded throughout the entire school. Mealey’s son Bill, a special education teacher at the school, headed it for several years.
“It’s exciting to see how everyone comes together to help,” said Carolyn Morse, a Spanish teacher at Timberlane who heads the fundraisers. “Each year, the need is more and more.”