Charity & Grassroots in Edison

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The Summit Area YMCA with its Berkeley Heights location and the Madison Area YMCA serve as community gathering places where principles are put into practice. The cause-driven organizations focus on healthy living, social responsibility, and youth development. The Learning Circle (Summit Area) and the F.M. Kirby Children's Center (Madison Area) take care of babies as young as 6 weeks old, and babysitting services afford parents the opportunity to explore the Y while childcare professionals watch little ones.

The Y also aims to keep kids and their families healthy with sports leagues, youth sports clinics, group fitness classes, and a fitness center equipped with a climbing wall, Olympic free-weight room, and a pool. All of the Y’s programs are accessible to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay or perform a back handspring.

550 Springfield Ave
Berkeley Heights,
NJ
US

Since its inception, all the plays that Two River Theater has produced have shared a common thread: capturing the human experience. Bridging the gap between players and audiences, their intimate performances have made them a New Jersey treasure, leading to three Theater of the Year awards from the New Jersey Theater Alliance and The Star Ledger, as well as designation as a Major Impact Organization by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts. Giving them space to play along the way are two theaters: the 350-seat Joan and Robert Rechnitz Theater, where six-play subscription seasons and holiday shows unfold, and the 99-seat black box Marion Huber Theater.

121 Bridge Ave
Red Bank,
NJ
US

Custom collages from Pixtac bring unadorned walls to life with clean, borderless personal photos printed on acrylic glass. After uploading favorite wedding, baby, or other personal photos to the design site, customers choose a template to piece together collages, using simple editing software to resize, crop, and filter pictures for the perfect look. Once submitted, user creations are then digitally printed and mounted to acrylic glass panels that create a floating appearance when hung.

346 Bloomfield Ave
Caldwell,
NJ
US

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Monmouth County helps watch over children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect and advocates for their best interests in court. After 30 hours of intensive training, CASA volunteers ensure that each child?s voice is present in court proceedings, with the hope of securing safe, permanent homes where children can grow and thrive. Each advocate champions one child or group of siblings, researching the case, interviewing parties relevant to it, and providing valuable information to the court so judges can make the best decisions concerning the child?s future. Volunteers work with the child for as long as necessary?from a few months to a few years?until he or she is placed in a safe home.

40 Broad Street, Suite 202
Eatontown,
NJ
US

The volunteers of Musicians On Call's Bedside Performance Program may not have gone through med school, but that doesn't mean they're not healers. In fact, in some cases the responses they're able to elicit from their small hospital-room audiences—a smile on a stress-racked face, a foot moving ever so slightly to the music—are enough to make most doctors jealous.

The concept is as simple as it is unconventional: a volunteer knocks on a hospital door and asks if the room's occupant would like to hear some music. Patients who agree are treated to a brief private concert, a respite from the anxiety and monotony that can characterize even brief hospital stays. These miniature performances are so effective that in its 14 years of existence the organization has garnered support from celebrities across the musical spectrum and has grown to include branches in six cities: New York, Nashville, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. Through these branches, it's arranged for more than 400,000 patients, family members, and caregivers to rest their minds and recharge their spirits through the power of live music.

Live music, however, isn't the only salve in Musicians On Call's arsenal. Hospitals in all 50 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and Ireland, have received comprehensive CD libraries, as well as CD players, as part of the organization's Music Pharmacy program.

NBC Nightly News features MOC from Ebie McFarland on Vimeo.

See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand to projects big and small at the Groupon Grassroots blog.

1133 Broadway
New York,
NY
US

After graduating from college, Lucia Rollow started looking for a place to print her photos in New York, only to be put off by expensive and snobbish darkrooms. So she began her own operation in a storage unit in the basement of an apartment building. Unable to tolerate solitary confinement for long, Lucia opened it up to other photographers and dubbed the space Bushwick Community Darkroom. Allison Putnam was among the influx of regular visitors, and she eventually became Lucia's cohort in the communal photography effort. The two share a passion for old-school photo printing, despite the availability of apps that impart vintage effects digitally. As Lucia told Gloria Dawson of The Brooklyn Ink, “The darkroom was the reason I fell in love with photography, just the idea that you could capture this image and replicate it and watch it appear seemingly out of nowhere is incredible.”

Meanwhile, photographers Vanessa Gill and Cheryl Arent were working on a communal-darkroom venture similar to Lucia's, and in 2012 the duos joined forces to crowdsource funding for a real studio space. Today, all four ladies work out of their newly opened studio, where they keep film photography alive with professional printing equipment and cryogenic storage tanks for old cameras. With the support of the community, this quartet teaches classes and provides film photographers with affordable access to resources such as enlargers and a Fujimoto CP51 color processor.

1095 Flushing Avenue
Brooklyn,
NY
US