Evelyn Berardo, Emmalene Holland, Daniella Holland, Nora Crevoiserat and Meredith Crevoiserat wanted to create something together this fall. The F.N. Brown students, who are ages 6 to 8, have, like most other Verona students, been mostly apart because of the COVID-19 pandemic. They found their opportunity in the scarecrow contest sponsored by the Van Vleck House & Gardens in Montclair.
“Emmalene and Daniella’s mom, Esperanza, alerted us all to the contest going on at the Van Vleck Gardens, and we all thought it was a great idea,” says Evelyn Berardo’s mom, Brooke. “She organized the materials and the girls created Nina, the scarecrow that survived 2020. Nina held a book that depicted all the things we experienced in 2020 including the virus, masks, hand sanitizer, the election, a fire tornado, Tik Tok and more.”
Scarecrows In The Garden had categories for artisan entries, as well as business and amateurs. The girls entered in the amateur category–and they won much more than just bragging rights. First place came with a $500 donation to the charity of their choice.
“The girls were ecstatic,” says Brooke Berardo. “We had them meet up again to decide together where to donate the money. Despite the moms trying to guide them to donate to other charities, all the girls were set on donating to the Montclair Animal Shelter.” The money will go directly to medical care for the animals.
The Montclair Animal Shelter is closed to the public now, but staff remain onsite to care for the cats and dogs there.
The scarecrows were on display at Van Vleck from October 28 to November 8. Though they are now gone, the privately funded gardens are still open to the public, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the year. In season, Van Vleck has gardens with wisteria and azaleas, an edible garden and a butterfly garden, and it runs a variety of education programs for children and adults. Van Vleck will be holding several virtual fundraisers in December; you can get more details hereget more details here.