BRICK – Members of the Knights of Columbus Council #8160 are looking at new ways of fundraising for their annual support of a children’s summer camp program due to business closures and other changes which have limited their ability to raise money.
The township service organization has devoted its time and energy for 30 years toward organizing a massive field day for disabled children as part of a program called B.A.S.E. (Behavior Academic Social Experience) Camp. The summer program is for challenged children and coordinated by the township school district.
“We will be doing it again this year for the 31st year and it is for disabled people as young as pre-school and a little past 18 years old,” former Grand Knight John Crousio said. Crosio has been involved with the program for the last 12 years and is one of the coordinators of this year’s effort. Crosio added that more than 40 aides and teachers from the school district support the summer program.
Crosio said that this year’s program is expected to draw around 409 children. It began on July 5 and ran until Aug. 3. “The township runs the program and we provide food and entertainment during the July 26 track and field day held at Brick High School. We provide juice, water, snacks, chicken nuggets, hamburgers, ice cream and fruit.”
On the last day of the camp, the Knights hosted a pizza party which will include an awards program, T-shirts, entertainment and pizza. “We will have a DJ group called Greased Lightning made up of four young men who are challenged themselves but are very talented. We expect to provide at least 94 pizzas and a good time. Some of these kids are autistic, some have Down syndrome, and some have psychological problems but they need a good time too,” Crosio said.
In the last several years the Knights have found it more difficult to fundraise for their two special events that are part of BASE Camp. The Knights previously solicited donations outside local supermarkets but when the township Pathmark and A&P closed that avenue of fundraising ended.
“We weren’t the only group hurt by the closure of the supermarkets. The Girl Scouts, Little Leagues and football teams also raised money in front of those stores,” Crosio said.
Another big fundraiser for the summer program came from the sale of funnel cakes at the annual Brick Summerfest. When the governing body eliminated allowing service organizations to sell food and put food services out to public bid that ended that revenue source. Worse yet, it left the organization with a funnel cake machine it could no longer use.
“In 2005 the recreation director at the time thought that non-profits could handle the food at Summerfest,” Mayor John Ducey said. Ducey and the current members of the governing body were not on the council at that time.
“The Knights offered funnel cakes and some other groups – Kiwanis and Ladies Auxiliary – sold other things like grilled food and French fries,” Ducey said, adding that the township received complaints from Summerfest attendees “that the food wasn’t cooked or even hot and there wasn’t enough of it.”
Ducey said that this system was tried for two summers and six total shows before pulling the plug and going with outside food vendors.
“The non-profits are not excluded and are actually encouraged to put in bids during the process. None have done so to date perhaps because of the requirements as to the volume of food, timeliness, etc.,” the mayor said.
Ducey praised BASE camp saying it “is an excellent program where the students are thought of first. The activities work on the student’s social skills as well as academic and vocational skills. The campers are encouraged to use their imagination and creativity with the hopes of them enjoying themselves while learning skills to be successful in all aspects of their life. This program is definitely something that all of Brick Township can be proud of.”
The Knights are now using a GoFundMe effort to raise funds. “This has helped us. We have raised $900 so far and we hope to raise more. We’ve been able to solicit at Walmart in Brick, who have been terrific as well as at Jersey Farms and The Church of Epiphany on Herbertsville Road,” Crosio said. For now, the Knights are also asking members of the community to make donations to help keep the Knight’s two days of fun at the camp, alive.