24 hours in a rocking chair: Youth group rocks for charity

There are only so many ways to sit in a rocking chair, and Jacob Bihary, 11, probably tried them all as he rocked for 24 hours straight — with some stretch time — to raise money for charity.

Jacob, who attends Carrigan Intermediate School in West Haven, and about 20 other members of the Junior Pilgrim Fellowship Youth Group at the First United Church of Christ in Milford, rocked in rocking chairs from 11 a.m. on Feb. 13 to 11 a.m. on Feb. 14 at the church, to raise funds to buy recess equipment for the Beardsley School in Bridgeport.

Twenty-one members started out the night, and by morning there were about 16 left. But whether they “rocked out,” as one adult leader termed those who didn’t quite make it through the entire 24 hours, or rocked on throughout the event, the young church members together raised $1,475 for the recess equipment, and at least another $400 was pledged through the church website.

The rockers, sixth through eighth graders from Milford and surrounding towns, were a little saggy eyed by 10 a.m. Sunday. Jacob said one trick for making it through the long rock-a-thon was to switch positions in the chair. He said what he found the most comfortable was the standard sitting straight, feet down rocking formation.

Tired? “Very,” said James Jeffery, 11, who attends the Mauro-Sheridan Science, Technology and Communications School in New Haven.

But it was worth the effort, he said.

“Our school always is able to afford good recess equipment and I felt bad for a school that can’t,” James said. “It is a good cause.”

The participants did indeed rock around the clock, but they got time to stretch, said Gerry Burns, 11, who also goes to Carrigan Intermediate School.

When they got up to stretch, the students carried a rock in their pocket, so they were still sort of rocking, the adult organizers said. Also, some of the older students were going to bring their rocking chairs to the church service Sunday morning and continue rocking there.

The youth group members passed the time with activities as they rocked, according to adult leaders Ashley Grant and Lorrie Quirk. They created heart decorations to share with the community as a random act of kindness. They made dog toys for animals at the animal shelter, they watched a movie, and they painted. They even did rocking chair aerobics.

The participants walked outside for a short time in the frigid night during one of their stretches — temperatures downtown were below 4 degrees in some areas — and they talked about what it might be like to be homeless on a night like this.

Aeryn Rivera, 11, a student at East Shore Middle School, admitted she was pretty tired Sunday as the event came to a close. But she and the others said they enjoyed rocking the night away for a good cause.

Donations for the Beardsley School may be sent to First United Church of Christ— Milford, Attn. JPF, 34 West Main Street, Milford CT 06460, or visit firstchurchofmilford.org (http://bit.ly/20WmsvQ) to access the online donation form.

Beardsley School is a pre-K to grade six school on Huntington Road in Bridgeport.