Two days after Hurricane Sandy’s devastating blow to the Jersey Shore, Brooke Sofield, a cheerleading coach at Wardlaw-Hartridge High School, felt compelled to do something to help.
She didn’t need to look much farther than her own family for storm victims. Her aunt lost everything when her house in Mantoloking was completely submerged. Sofield’s parents also own a home in town, but they haven’t been able to check the extent of damage because access to the area is limited.
Sofield was ready last Wednesday when Tanda Tucker, Wardlaw-Hartridge’s head cheerleading coach, asked for ideas on how the team could help hurricane victims on the Jersey Shore.
“I originally had the idea for a wristband (to raise funds) because I wear a wristband for my friend’s nephew, who passed away,” Sofield said. “I figured a lot of people were in the same position as my parents and my aunt.”
Sofield got the green light and took action right away.
“I sent out tons of email to wristband companies explaining what we wanted to do, trying to find out who could help,” Sofield added. “We wanted to get the lowest price so we could have the highest proceeds for New Jersey.”
Sofield and Tucker selected a Utah company and initially ordered 250 ocean blue bracelets, each embossed with “Restore the Shore — Jersey Strong.” They planned to sell them for $5 apiece in hopes of raising at least $1,000.
Sofield started spreading the word on the charity, posting information on ordering bracelets to her own Facebook page. Cheerleading team and family members helped with publicity.
The response was immediate and strong.
“We decided to create a separate Facebook page for the project,” to make it easier to manage, she said. “And we started getting orders from people across the country before we knew how we wanted our charity to work.”
Sofield noted that a national organization such as the American Red Cross wouldn’t focus on the Jersey Shore. The two coaches wanted all donations to help families, schools and businesses in the state’s battered coastal areas.
“We were having problems finding such a charity,” Sofield admitted, “so we finally decided to work with the school.”
The cheerleading squad will be selling wristbands through Wardlaw-Hartridge’s website, which will have a link to purchase. Updated information will be posted on the site and also on the “Restore the Shore — Jersey Strong” Facebook page: www.facebook.com/
jerseystrongRTS. All proceeds will be distributed to Jersey Shore victims of Hurricane Sandy.