MAYS LANDING — A song written by an Egg Harbor Township school counselor, and recorded by Alder Avenue School students, is being used as an anthem to raise awareness and support for the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Southern Branch.
Bruce Gitto wrote the “End Hunger Anthem” in 2014 after being inspired by Mother Theresa and a story his cousin told him of how she learned a homeless man she had been giving money to was a long-lost brother.
“That’s really true,” he said. “It was her brother who was homeless and hungry that day.”
Gitto and his band, Fun Wave, have been playing the song at local concerts and fundraising events, taking up a collection for the food bank after they play.
This year, he approached Alder Avenue School choir director Diana Fogleman and asked if the choir could perform the song. They taped it and posted it on YouTube, and Stockton University’s radio station adopted it as a public service announcement for the food bank.
On Tuesday the choir performed at the Hamilton Mall, ending with the anthem.
“The kids really like the idea of helping others with the song,” Fogleman said.
Student Ronald Harley 13, said the school also does a food drive.
“I hope we can inspire people to help others,” he said.
Gia Patroni, 13, said she has volunteered at the food bank during the past two summers and has learned to feel fortunate for what she has.
“The song introduces people to hunger and why they should help out,” she said.
“I hope it does make people realize how fortunate they are,” Johanna Wentzell, 12, added.
“We are letting people know that others are suffering,” said Melissa Lafferty, 11.
Gitto said they are planning an End Hunger Through the Arts week during the first week in November and hope to get other schools, churches and community groups to use the song to help raise awareness and funds for the food bank. The lyrics have been translated into Spanish.
Gitto said anyone interested in participating can contact him through his band, Fun Wave, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year the Food Bank distributed more than 43 million pounds of food in New Jersey. More than 70 percent of the people it serves are living below the poverty line.
Renate Taylor, development officer for the food bank’s Southern Branch, said they are grateful for the help. She got emotional listening to the children sing.
“People don’t realize how great the need is,” she said.