'Hoagies 4 Hope': High school students make a difference selling famous sandwiches

MULLICA HILL, N.J. (WPVI) -- It may be a Sunday and a snow day, but eleventh-grade students Mary Monaca and Gavin Corley drove to school before sunrise to make a difference.

"At least we're trying our best to continue some of the traditions," said Corley, one of the many students whose high school experience has been curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both Monaca and Corley sit as co-chairs on Clearview Regional High School's Hoagies 4 Hope campaign, an annual charity event they've been working with since they were seventh graders. Since 2015, the fundraiser has netted more than $100,000 for local individuals navigating financial hardships.

As the pandemic continued, doubts were raised about the 2021 Hoagies 4 Hope campaign.

"When we talked to the students in the beginning of the year, they were adamant on 'we still want this to happen'," said Student Council Co-Advisor Michael Wolk Jr. "Let's figure out a way for it to happen," he continued.

Faculty and staff trusted students to organize, sell, and distribute roughly 800 hoagies. This included connecting with sponsors, engaging in weekly meetings, and even designing the t-shirts. They were aided by cafeteria staff, who stepped up to make the hoagies while following safety guidelines. The snow did not keep hungry families from picking up their Super Bowl sandwich in the drive-through lane.

"It's just definitely going to help us later in life," said Mary Moraca. "For internships or applying to college and all."

Last year's event championed a local teacher who needed (and eventually received) a bone marrow transplant. This year's proceeds will reach a middle school student and a Clearview High School graduate who are battling chronic illnesses.

"We've seen our student council members go out after this and go after their own charity events as well," said Michael Wolk Jr. "So, I think it is something that lasts within."

In a neighboring town, Washington Township High School also continued to sell hoagies this week to benefit community members. Their Helping Hands Hoagie Sale was the inspiration for Clearview when they first joined the sandwich-selling scene seven years ago.

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