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Ready, Set, Package 20,000 Meals!

  By JOSEPH SAPIA As part of its mission work, St. Paul United Methodist Church in Ocean Grove will package 20,000 meals on March 22 to be shipped to a third-world country or countries. On the afternoon of Sunday, March 22, about 100 church members and other volunteers are to meet to package the meals at the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association Youth Temple. The church is working with the Stop Hunger Now organization, with the congregation supplying the funds and volunteers to package meals with dehydrated rice and soy brought in by Stop Hunger Now. The Rev. John DiGiamberardino…

The Winter of Our Discontent?

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Remember the generally snowless, mild weather of December and early January — the Winter That Was Not. Then came the onslaught of sub-freezing, sometime near zero, temperatures and seemingly almost every other day snow or ice — not large accumulations, but enough in which they had to be dealt with. What would you title this winter — so far, because we could have snow for another month, for example, no matter what the calendar says? “Unending Torment or Unending Torrent, one of the two,” said Jewels Reigns of Ocean Grove. It felt as though it was…

Neptune Flight Nurse Returns from Deployment in Afghanistan

  By JOSEPH SAPIA While a student at Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls, Gretchen Hayes had to figure a way to pay for a college education. “So, I went into the military because they had tuition assistance,” said Hayes, 30, now living in Neptune. “The Air Force, (because) my dad’s prior Air Force.” She chose the healthcare field – first getting a bachelor’s degree in biology from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, then an associate’s degree in nursing from Brookdale Community College and, finally, a bachelor’s degree in nursing from St. Peter’s University. “I always liked to…

Some Like It Cold, But Most Do Not

  By JOSEPH SAPIA For 21 years, Juan Rivera has worked in a refrigerated room. “Forty-five, forty-three degrees, all day,” said Rivera, 58, who works at Gourmet Kitchen, a food-preparer in Neptune. Sure, the Asbury Park resident is used to the cold, but it does not mean he is used to the constant threat of snow and sub-freezing, sometime near-zero temperatures the recent weeks of winter have brought us. “It’s terrible,” said Rivera, who finds himself spending more time indoors. “It just won’t let up.” But Rivera, as with others, is grinning and bearing the winter. “I’m hanging in there,”…

Polar Express Stopping at Shore

  By JOSEPH SAPIA On Tuesday, Donna Ryan was out of breath, shoveling snow on a neighbor’s sidewalk on Bradley Beach’s Ocean Avenue. “I’ve had enough,” said Ryan, 49, speaking of the winter weather. The snow is one thing, but the cold has been worse — frozen pipes, the furnace chugging to keep up. “It’s been a tough February,” Ryan said. “We had an easy December and January. It was great. Then, February came back to bite us. “My poor kids,” said Ryan, speaking of son, Jake, 13 and daughter, Kylie, 9. “They need to get outside. In 10 minutes,…

Ocean Grove Community Pulls Together as One

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Born and raised in Ocean Grove, Bobby Eastin knows the charm of the late 1800s historic community. And Eastin, 40, knows the dark history of fire in a town of old wooden structures only inches apart from each other, sometime whipped by a Shore breeze. “Everybody in town is very fire-conscious,” Eastin said. “You’re just aware of how dangerous it can be.” But Eastin said he was not thinking of that on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 6, when he walked out of the business he owns, Ocean Grove Hardware at 51 Main Ave., and saw…

The ‘Blizzard’ That Bombed

  By JOSEPH SAPIA The Madello family of Avon was going on a cruise this week to Key West in Florida and Nassau in the Bahamas. Not that they need the warmer weather, though. On Wednesday, in 27 degrees, the family — dad Dylan, 40; mom Mikhael, 35; and daughters, Scarlett, 4, and Elise, 2 — were visiting the playground on the Avon beach. Mikhael said she thought it was easier “to be in the snow than in the house with the pent-up energy” her daughters have. “We’re just giving the kids some exercise,” Dylan said. “They seem to be…

Dream Center, Uva Restaurant Collect 2,500 Diapers for the Needy

  By JOSEPH SAPIA Just 24 hours after being co-coordinator of a first-time charity event, Cheryl Ashcroft was looking forward to doing it again, perhaps on an ongoing basis. Collecting diapers. Diapers to be distributed to the needy by the Jersey Shore Dream Center in Asbury Park. Over three hours on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 25, Pagano’s UVA restaurant and wine bar in Bradley Beach hosted the Dream Center’s First Annual Diaper Drive. “It was between 2,500 and 3,000 diapers, I’d say,” said the Rev. Isaac Friedel, founder and chief executive officer of the Dream Center and pastor of…

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting to Receive $1.6 Million for Boardwalk

  By JOSEPH SAPIA The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is receiving $1.6 million in federal funds, or 90 percent of the approximately $1.8 million the association needed, to repair the boardwalk damaged in 2012 during Superstorm Sandy. Elected officials of both parties supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency coming through on this project. “I’m thankful that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association is receiving this grant, as it completes a journey that took over two years,” said state Senator Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth County. “This is a huge victory for not only Ocean Grove, the Camp Meeting Association, but also…

Shop Local and Often

  By JOSEPH SAPIA As some stores gear up to open their doors on Thanksgiving this year, many local, small business owners in the area say they are looking forward to the weekend to Saturday which has come to be known as Small Business Saturday. Jim Carella, owner of Carella’s Art and Sole Footwear in Avon, praised the Small Business Saturday promotion, saying it is “out there for the small business industry.” “It’s really raised awareness for Main Street businesses,” said Carella, who has had his store seven years. “I think people in general, since the recession hit, turned a…

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