Church Plans Benefit For Hurricane Relief

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SCOTCH PLAINS — Willow Grove Presbyterian Church in Scotch Plains is offering an opportunity to help provide assistance for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and food for neighbors in need, while enjoying international cuisine and listening to vocal and instrumental music from China.

The church will hold an international dinner on Saturday, March 2, from 5 to 8 p.m. All funds raised will be divided equally and donated to Hurricane Sandy assistance and to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. The snow or rain date is March 9.

The international dinner will feature an array of ethnic specialties, including Italian, Chinese, Greek, German, Korean, Scottish, Irish, English, West Indian and Polish. Complementing the cuisine will be performances by the Chinese American Music Ensemble (CAME) Adult Chorus and Children’s Chorus, by the Music From China Youth Orchestra, and by Paul DiDario, director of Music at Willow Grove.

Both groups hold their weekly rehearsals at Willow Grove Church. The Music From China Youth Orchestra features young musicians who perform on authentic Chinese instruments and receive year-round training with annual concerts at major cultural and educational institutions. It sponsors a summer music program in these instruments for children and young people held during August at the church.

The Chinese American Music Ensemble (CAME) is the only choral program in New Jersey that offers choral music training for children and adults at the same time and place. CAME seeks to enrich and broaden cultural horizons through music training, and to provide a community service through concert performances. DiDario, who received a B.A. and M.A. from Juilliard School, will perform on keyboard and accompany the groups.

According to Willow Grove’s Pastor, Reverend Cynthia Cochran-Carney, the international dinner is an annual event at Willow Grove Church that reflects some of the church’s most important values and commitments as a congregation. She states, “Helping neighbors near and far who are in need is central to our faith, so each year we raise money for organizations that provide basic needs of food, shelter and disaster relief. Willow Grove Church has a growing Ministry of Music and the Arts from a variety of traditions and cultures. God has shown us ways we can build bridges of hope and understanding that involve people of all ages making music together. This is the reason we are home to many musical groups and events, including Music From China and CAME. You will not want to miss these inspiring and exciting musicians and singers! You can enjoy all of this and then sample food entrees and desserts from around world.”

Tickets are $12 for adults and teens, $6 for children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under, with a family maximum of $35. To guarantee a seat for the dinner, buy a ticket in advance because last year seats for the dinner sold out. Tickets may not be available at the door. Purchase tickets by calling the church office at 1-908-232-5678, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information about Willow Grove Church, email or visit If you cannot attend but would like to make a donation, call August Ruggiero at 1-908-889-5948. The Willow Grove Presbyterian Church is located at 1961 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains, opposite the Scotch Plains Southside Firehouse and near the corner of South Martine Avenue. All church facilities are handicap-accessible.

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