The Galloway Township Senior Center received a valuable gift recently, a new automated external defibrillator, courtesy of students at Assumption Regional Catholic School and the AtlantiCare Heart Heroes program of AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus in Pomona.

It's a gift that is very much appreciated, but hopefully will never get used, Mayor Don Purdy said.

"This is great for our citizens and brings a peace of mind for everyone who uses the Senior Center, because this device can save a life. But, obviously, it's something we hope nobody will ever need," Purdy said.

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The mayor accepted the AED on behalf of the Galloway Senior Center during the April 8 Township Council meeting at Township Hall.

The township's first ever Senior Center opened in 2012 at the American Legion building on Carton Avenue and the White Horse Pike. Until now, there was no AED on the premises.

"This will be really helpful when time is of the essence during an emergency," said Purdy, who added that several of the township's police and fire units, the first responders in an emergency, are equipped with AEDs as well.

Assumption School spokeswoman Cathryn Flammer said the school conducts a service project each month, raising money through "dress down" days when students pay $2 for the privilege of wearing jeans or casual clothes to school instead of their uniforms - likewise for any teacher or staff member who contributes $5.

The money raised during February is traditionally designated in support of American Heart Month, so teaming up with Heart Heroes was a good fit, school officials said.

The Heart Heroes, a volunteer group founded in 2002, raises funds for the Heart Institute at ARMC and the AtlantiCare Foundation to place AEDs in the community. The Heart Heroes fund a portion of the AED with community groups and/or organizations provide the remaining funds.

To date, 115 AEDs have been placed through the ARMC Heart Heroes Matching Funds Program.

Past donations resulted in helping to purchase an AED for the township's Bayview Fire Company, and on April 16 the Oceanville Fire Company will be presented with a new AED.

Student Council President Courtney Reed, 14, an eighth-grader, was one of the students who helped present the AED to the mayor during the meeting. Joining the Galloway Township resident for the presentation was her sister, Abigail Reed, 7, a second-grader, and Johnny Flammer, 9, a third-grader from Port Republic.

Purdy commended the school and the students for their involvement and said that giving back to the community is something that should be instilled at an early age.

He also gave credit to AtlantiCare for being a good community partner and helping to make the township a safer place to live.

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