By ARIHANT SETH, sophomore
A night of giving took place in JP Stevens on May 4 as students warmly welcomed Jorge Grajales, a boy from Panama who lost his limbs as a young child. When Jorge was an infant, a team of doctors performed several amputations due to an infection that cut off circulation to his hands and feet. He currently resides with the Dyksens, a foster family in upstate New Jersey. The Spanish Honors Society (SHS), upon hearing of his story, immediately wanted to help. These efforts culminated in the Dinner for Jorge.
The SHS coordinated tirelessly with the Helping Hands for Jorge Foundation to make this event possible. Going beyond the event, JPS students set up fundraisers for a couple of weeks prior to the special night. For example, members sold paper hands to students throughout the school as well as tickets to the dinner itself. Everyone’s efforts resulted in donations worth over two thousand dollars, raised by selling canned goods, collecting donations from local charities, and other means. Senior Stephanie Bretton said, “I feel proud of what we have accomplished. At first the task of raising money meant a lot of dedication and pressure since we wanted to help out as much as we possibly could. In the end, I think we did very well.”
After weeks of fundraising, the night was finally here. On the evening of May 4, Jorge arrived at the school with his foster family. Many students were excited to meet Jorge and saw their hard work rewarded with happiness and friendship. “I was anxious to meet him at first, but as the night went on, I became fast friends with Jorge. He really is special,” junior Priyanka Patel recalled. Many others crowded around and took pictures with him. After the greetings, the night soon continued on to food and dancing. Senora Martinez approved of the menu. “One thing that really stuck out to me was the variety of the menu the kids put up for the event. There was pizza, rice, burritos, and pasta! It was a fun night that deserved special food. I loved it!”
As the night came to a close, Mrs. Dyksen formally thanked everyone for their successful efforts. But the night truly belonged to Jorge. Junior Mohammad Nawaz said, “Jorge’s affability made it seem as if everyone around him was his best friend, and I was happy that I took part in setting up a fundraiser that had its money directed toward helping such a great person.”