Toms River hair salon A Cut Above Hair & Nail Design lived up to its name on Sunday, as the boutique and haircutting establishment held a fundraising event which raised $2,500 to benefit the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, a group led by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie.
Owner Jamie Batzel explained that after the storm occurred, she wanted to give back to the local community that she has been a business owner in since 1984.
“I wanted to keep it local, so we’re donating to the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund,” said Batzel. “Everything just snowballed, and we’re really excited to help. Everyone has been so supportive of the event.”
The salon offered haircuts for $15 and hair extensions for $5, with all of the proceeds put towards the relief efforts. The business’s next-door neighbor, Sal’s Italian Restaurant and Pizza, was also donating $1.50 from every slice of pizza sold during the day towards the fund.
In addition to the money raised, four vans worth of supplies were driven to local shelters, which carried donations from as far away as Virginia. Former New Jersey resident Doug Purvis, now living in Virginia, said that he purchased $500 worth of supplies at Costco on Saturday evening and headed north on Sunday morning.
“I had so many great times at the Jersey Shore in my life, and I knew it was my time to pay it back,” said Purvis.
Batzel added that the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy resonated more deeply after hearing the plights of customers, some of whom had lost their homes.
“One lady came in here with nothing but her purse and the clothes on her back, at least 25 clients have said that their homes were totaled,” Batzel described. “We saw the tragedy of everything that happened, and wanted to do something. This is our home, this is our place.”
Batzel said that while the events of Sandy were still recent, she wanted to hold the fundraiser at A Cut Above.
“We didn’t want to run it in February and lose momentum, but we might hold another one in February too. We’re ordering armbands which read, “Restore the Shore, One Shell at a Time”. We also wanted to open the business for anyone who wanted to get a cup of hot coffee or charge their cell phones. We want this (giving) to continue,” said Batzel.
Fellow A Cut Above employee Kristi Buongiorno also expressed her gratitude for everyone who helped make the fundraiser happen.
“We want to thank everyone who’s helped get this together. We’re so overwhelmed by the volunteers and outpouring of support we’ve received,” said Buongiorno.
Matthew Falks of SaveOurShore.org, a local vendor selling clothes inspired by Jersey Shore life at the fundraiser, commented that 100 percent of the proceeds they generated were going directly to families and persons in the local area who were in need of them.
“It’s nothing against the bigger organizations, but we wanted to make sure that this money was going to people who were most in need of it,” said Falks.
Fellow vendor Kristen Zulueta agreed.
“We’re finding out about families who need assistance and trying to get everything donated locally. Tomorrow, we’re taking $15,000 that we’ve raised and going shopping (for those in need) at Costco and BJ’s. Later today, we have two U-Haul trucks with supplies headed to Saint Barbara’s Church also,” said Zulueta.
Zulueta, who along with her husband lost their condominium in Seaside Heights, said she was happy to join the relief effort and was grateful for the support her company received.
“We’re backed by Yashi, a Fortune 500 company. We want this to grow and continue, so that if something happens elsewhere, say an earthquake in California or a hurricane in North Carolina, we can help out with those situations too. We want to keep this going, that’s what our goal is.”
Other attractions at the event included a personal appearance by actor Brian O’Halloran, a stalwart of Kevin Smith’s films, who was on hand to sign autographs for several hours, along with a 45-minute set of live music provided by the band Maximum America, and DJ/Karaoke services from Don Cook and “Puttin’ on the Hits”.