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Students Raise Money to Help Restore Ortley Boardwalk

Young summer resident, locals pitch in to help

Kayla Smith, center, hands Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher a check for $1,000.
Kayla Smith, center, hands Mayor Thomas F. Kelaher a check for $1,000.
A college student in North Jersey with close family ties to Toms River is helping to rebuild the township's boardwalk in Ortley Beach.

Kayla Smith is a resident of Peapack, Somerset County, and a junior at Drew University, and never forgot her fun-filled summers at Ortley Beach, where her grandmother lives.

Over the years, she has made many friends in the area, including local resident Brandon Camacho, a Toms River High School East graduate, and after Superstorm Sandy struck the area, the pair and their friends were looking for ways to help.

"I helped clean the beaches and also wanted to raise money because I come here for the summer," said Smith, who create "Jersey Strong" t-shirts that raised money for the rebuilding effort.

“I felt helpless and didn’t know what to do, so we decided to raise money," she said. "We live in Union County but we often come to visit my grandmother.”

Her grandmother, Patricia Smith, lives in the Sunset Manor section of Toms River.  She lost her home to the storm and just recently re-built her house.

Kayla’s father, chiropractor Patrick Smith, runs the Smith Chiropractic Foundation and was the host for the Jersey Strong project.

“The kids felt bad when Sandy happened and wanted to do something," he said. "I’ve always thought it was important to give back to the community, so I let them sell their t-shirts in my chiropractic office in Berkeley Heights. Their t-shirt drive also led to other donations coming in.”

Camacho, a friend of Kayla’s, has helped clean the beaches and sold the t-shirts throughout his high school. He still lives year-round in Ortley Beach and is currently attending Ocean County College.

“The efforts from our volunteers never cease to amaze me,” said Mayor Tom Kelaher. “We have kids all the way up in Peapack, who summer here at our Toms River beaches, and wanted to see the boardwalk restored. Their fundraising efforts enabled this group to provide Toms River, Seaside Heights and Lavallette each with a check for $1,000. 

"We are very grateful for their generosity.”

The money will be earmarked for new benches along the Ortley Beach boardwalk.
Mark June 23, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Kudo's to this young lady for her hard work and determination. Unfortunately the chances of all this money actually going for benches on the Ortley Boardwalk are very very slim to none considering the incompetence, corruption & apathy of our so-called elected officials!
F-TR June 23, 2014 at 02:14 PM
A job well done Kayla! Your only mistake was to give the check to that old moron we call mayor. Who knows where that money will end up. Live and learn as they say.
OLD WHITE JOE June 23, 2014 at 04:26 PM
Now the mayor can buy a new suit
grace June 24, 2014 at 09:11 AM
please young lady go into politics..we need young people!!!

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