A Moriches student has been going the extra mile to give back to his local community.
Joseph Mazzarella, a fifth-grader at Moriches Elementary School, has participated in activities ranging from charitable marathons to food drives in an effort to collect money and meals for important causes.
Most recently, he has worked to begin a student "green team" that will devote time, once a week during recess, to pick up litter on his school's campus. The team also is working to plant a vegetable garden on school grounds, with the harvest to go to local pantries.
"I feel like the more I can put toward the community, the better and more healthy it will be," said Joseph, 11.
His other efforts include running in marathons to benefit the Colon Cancer Challenge Foundation and running in an annual turkey trot hosted by the William Floyd school district. He also joins in local runs that raise funds, through the nonprofit Smiles Change Lives, for orthodontic treatment and braces for families that can't afford it.
In addition, Joseph has raised $300 in recent years through the American Heart Association's "Hoops for Heart" program and is on his school's safety patrol, which helps kids navigate halls.
"He's such a great role model for other students," assistant principal Deirdre Redding said.