The Project Graduation Committee is urging the Point Borough community to buy Christmas trees, poinsettias and holiday greens by Monday to make sure the alcohol-free event happens next June.
The night at the Atlantic Club following the Point Borough High School graduation is at risk of becoming a secondary victim of Superstorm Sandy because organizers lost a few valuable weeks to sell the holiday flowers and greenery.
Sales started at the end of October, just as the storm was hitting and then the local public schools were closed for two weeks, so sales are way behind and the deadline is Monday.
"We are trying to focus on not letting Sandy take the holiday out of Point Pleasant and to let Project Graduation bring the holiday spirit with the beautiful poinsettias, trees and greens," said Nancy Pazienza, a Project Graduation executive board member who was also just elected to the Point Borough Board of Education. (She will be sworn in at a board meeting in January.)
There is no local or state funding for Project Graduation, so more than $20,000 to pay the Atlantic Club in Wall and pay for food and games to make the night complete has to come from private donations. If enough money isn't raised locally, Project Graduation won't happen.
"Statistics say that graduation night is the most dangerous night for teenagers as more teens are killed on graduation night than any other night," Pazienza said. "It's not just about having a good time on graduation night and celebrating. It's about keeping our graduates safe for one of the most dangerous nights of the year."
There are new incentives for seniors to sell holiday greens and flowers to help raise money.
"The senior who brings in the most sales wins a free bid to the senior prom," Pazienza said. "And we have a new incentive with the seniors getting credit for each order they bring in as they can earn tickets toward the prizes we raffle off at Project Graduation.
"While it's a difficult time to be doing a fundraiser with the devastation that Sandy has brought on, it is important to keep spirits up," noted Pazienza. "Project Graduation will try to do that with offering beautiful, quality poinsettias and greens. The Christmas trees are perfect and last long into the new year. We will be taking orders through Monday. All orders must be prepaid, but we will have a few things for sale the night of pick up (Fri. Nov. 30).
"We will be offering delivery this year as a way to help out those who can't get to us for pickup. People can just make a note on the form that they need delivery when submitting their prepaid order."
Jim Foley is the school district substance awareness counselor who started Project Graduation 24 years ago, along with teachers like Anne Speiser and Connie Mass, who just retired this past year, Pazienza said. Every year the teachers, parents and students raise money to have the special drug-free, alcohol-free celebration on graduation night. It's been held at the Atlantic Club for 23 out of 24 years.
Orders can be sent into or dropped off at the main office at the high school or at a home of a committee executive board member. Committee volunteers will also come pick up the orders. For more information, call Theresa Luisa DelPriori at 732-278-5571, Cindy Blank at 732-598-6146 or Pazienza at firstname.lastname@example.org. (See order form as attached PDF).