The Gabriel Project was started in 1990 by Mr. Mark J. Melamed and his sixth grade class after watching an episode of 60 Minutes on the deplorable conditions of hospitals in third world countries. Mr. Melamed started the project to increase student interest in reading while raising funds to help children less fortunate than themselves. Involving students in each current class and inviting students and parent volunteers from previous years, these students and their teacher have combined school curriculum while raising funds to bring children, dying of heart disease to the U.S. from Tanzania, Africa, to receive lifesaving surgery.
Through a variety of fund-raisers – a read-a-thon, a bowl-a-thon, a celebrity auction, collecting pennies, selling candy, a craft fair and talent show – the students have been able to raise the $7, 000 needed each year to bring a child and mother to the US for surgery.
The Gabriel Project has been responsible for bringing three boys, diagnosed with holes in their hearts to Deborah Heart and Lung Centre for their surgery. The New Jersey Hospital performs the surgeries at no cost. All three boys had successful surgeries and are now back home in Tanzania where they are doing well and in no further need of surgery.
The students also vote each year to donate any excess funds to local charities and to date, have donated funds to the local soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, the Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Academy and hospital children's ward.