As the pandemic continues, so too does the effort to help those Garden State residents who find themselves struggling the most.

First lady Tammy Murphy, who launched the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund when the health emergency first began in the spring, says the fund has collected almost $64 million through nearly 62,000 donors.

She said while some donations are from corporations, foundations and wealthy celebrities, most of the money raised, almost 60%, is from average Garden State residents.

“We are really proud of that because I think it just goes to show how New Jersey really stands shoulder to shoulder and really looks out for one another,” she said.

“We have given out about $12 million in the area of critical needs, food and emergency needs like health care, telemedicine and things like that,” she said.

And close to $10 million has been distributed for economic resilience efforts, “and that has been for everything from supporting women and minority owned businesses to helping to pilot a unique and innovative child care model.”

She said another donation was made to get the Arts and Recovery fund in New Jersey off the ground and direct cash assistance has been given to “some of our most needy neighbors, those who live at basically 200% or less of the federal poverty level and they have been left out of all the Cares Act funding.”

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She said the Pandemic Relief Fund has also supported emergency help and mental help agencies across the Garden State and offered funding for legal assistance to help those who have lost their housing during the pandemic.

“What we do is stay in touch with these organizations that we have granted money to, and do a sort of report card after 90 days to understand where they are, how the money was used and where they thing they’re going in the future," she said.

She noted while there is great hope the COVID vaccines that have started being administered will help the state to recover, there is still great need in New Jersey and it’s amazing to see how so many people have lent a helping hand and contributed to the cause, no matter how large or small the donation.

“People have given money in memoriam when someone has passed away,” she said. “You’ve got children who have given money in honor of a teacher for Teacher Appreciation Day. They’ve done lemonade stands, there’s been dance recitals, money collected from college students who have not gotten haircuts.”

She stressed the effort the state has made collectively is nothing short of monumental.

“It’s just such a New Jersey moment,” said Murphy. “I’m incredibly proud of all that we’ve done and all that we will do, because there’s a lot more work to do.”

To learn more about how you can help the Relief Fund you can visit their website.

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