By JOANNE L. PAPAIANNI
Family beach days are a tradition up and down the Jersey shore but in Asbury Park where 37 percent of families are living under the poverty line, paying for beach badges is just not possible.
Asbury Park resident Lisa Marie Cramp said after listening to neighborhood children telling her, as she headed to the beach, that they would like to go too but can’t afford it, she decided to do something about that.
She set up an online GoFundMe page to raise money for beach passes, collecting $6000 in just nine days.
Her goal when she put up the page was $3000 and is delighted that it was doubled in such a short time.
“I am raising money so all residents can enjoy the beach this summer. We have over 30 percent poverty rate in Asbury Park and with the steep beach badge fees, a majority of the town is unable to enjoy the beach during the summer,” she said.
Cramp said the situation makes for the dangerous practice of people heading to the beach after hours when lifeguards are off duty.
“People who cannot afford the fees go when the beach is free. This is when life guards are off duty and that makes drowning or accidents more likely to occur,” she said.
Cramp, who has lived in the city for five years, is a local dog walker and volunteers for the non profit Roots to Rise.
After growing up in East Hanover, she lived in New York City and California before moving back to New Jersey due to her father’s illness.
Cramp said last year the Surfrider Foundation raised enough funds to purchase 50 beach passes and that gave her the idea to try GoFundMe this year.
She is purchasing the passes, including adult, teen and senior, and will give them to the Boys and Girls Club and Trinity Church for disbursement.
Both groups, she said, “help people the most.”
Cramp said if the need for free passes is fulfilled the excess funds could be used for swimming lessons or water safety classes.
Most of the people who donated are city residents Cramp said.
“I am excited that I have had such positive community response and I am overjoyed that families will be able to spend time together at the beach.
“Also, there is no discount for the disabled, so the disabled or folks living on fixed income will have a chance to feel the sand in their toes, safely. I would love to get the word out to people in town and families that beach badges will be made available through both Trinity Church and The Boys and Girls Club”
Cramp said she is hoping going to the beach with their families will have a positive effect on city youth.
“I hope it will keep kids out of gangs and out of trouble and enjoying being with their families,” she said.
To donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/