Charity Drive Held for Lakewood’s Tent City
A charity drive for Lakewood's Tent City residents is an overwhelming success. The event was organized on Facebook and with the help of local Cover Band Johnny Pipe by Little Egg Harbor resident Lauren Skolsky.
Skolsky says donors helped meet a long list of needs during Charity Night Saturday, January 7th, at the High Velocity Sports Bar in Beachwood. Skolky says "the Amount of people that showed up was Phenomenal. We filled up a U-Haul Truck within a matter of minutes. We pulled into the parking lot and there were already fifty people waiting to give us stuff to put into the truck." She also says that they didn't get into the building for the first hour because they were loading the truck and she says the Bar's bouncer came out to show them what was accumulating inside. "I walked into the bar and the whole back side of the bar, it looked like Christmas exploded like ten times."
Skolsky, who's working on a degree in Social Work at Richard Stockton College, says her collection drives began in November. She says she started learning about social reforms and the things that are kind of lacking in Ocean County and she began researching the amount of homeless people that are in the area and she says the numbers are astonishing.
She says she contacted Tent City Leader, Minister Steve Brigham for a list of supplies and set up the first drive through her contacts at her College and on Facebook. She says Minister Steve told her that it was the largest donation they've ever received. However, Skolsky didn't stop there, she set to double the amount of supplies collected this Month.
She says she began by setting up a group on Facebook that gave updates on Tent City Lawsuits, Listing the job skills of Tent City residents and she partnered with a Local Cover Band called Johnny Pipe to hold a Charity Night at the High Velocity Sports Bar in Beachwood for January 7th the day before the drop off.
She says during the Sunday, January 8th drop off "they were so happy! Sitting and talking to these people, it brought to them joy that maybe we don't experience because maybe we take a lot of things for granted but that people actually do care because they deal with a lot of negativity in life on a day-to-day basis from rude people and bad media press."
However, Lakewood's Tent City also holds a personal connection for Skolsky. Skolsky says she actually had a cousin who experienced homelessness and stayed in Tent City in the early days. She says her cousin attributes his addiction recovery and faith to Pastor Steve Brigham. She says he even made arrangements for her cousin to go to a Salvation Army Program in New York where he now helps the homeless.
Skolsky believes the Tent City resident need to continue to fight for a Homeless Shelter in Ocean County. She says places like the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and shelters in Monmouth County have a waiting list and have to turn people away. She says the temporary shelters like the Seaside Motels, are just that, temporary and says when the money runs out it will leave the homeless without a place to live.
Skolsky says there's a list of items the homeless needs on a Facebook page she set up. The page also includes the names of some of the Tent City residents and the job skills so that employers and residents would considering hiring them.
For more information go to Facebook.com. Skolsky says people wanted to donate items can call her at 732-600-7432.