As the holidays approached last month, student athletes, staff and parent volunteers from South Brunswick High School joined together to provide some much needed holiday giving to the Jersey Shore.
A group of almost 40 volunteers from the SBHS baseball and basketball teams converged in Manasquan to help residents clean up homes and businesses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
"People down there are still really grateful for any help they can get," said SBHS baseball Assistant Coach C.J. Hendricks, who has organized several volunteer relief efforts for South Brunswick students at the shore. "It's really amazing to see how far the area has come, but still has so far to go. We need to keep reminding people that there is still so much work to be done. The roads are finally getting clear and it seems like they're still getting a lot of people coming out to volunteer."
Hendricks, who has lived in Manasquan during the summer months since 2007, was driven to take action shortly after Sandy ripped through the area. He worked with the South Brunswick Diamond Club on cleanup efforts in November with members of the SBHS baseball team. On subsequent efforts, the Vikings baseball team was joined by the SBHS basketball team performing various tasks for Manasquan residents in need.
SBHS basketball Head Coach Joe Hoehman, who could not be reached for comment, provided a group of about 20 students from the varsity and junior varsity squads.
"It was a really nice day to help, with some of the basketball guys only able to stay for a few hours," Hendricks said. "But it was great to have them down there to help as much as they could before they had to get back to practice."
The students worked getting rid of debris and sand from homes and businesses, removing appliances from residences, and doing various heavy lifting tasks for homeowners. SBHS baseball Manager Tim Sweeney and Assistant Coach Dan Olsson also worked with Hendricks to remove flooring and drywall from damaged homes.
"It's tough to drive by and still see a lot of sand in homes and garages. But people still have high morale as they see things moving in a positive direction," Hendricks said. "You see people coming in to volunteer from all over the country, which is great to hear about. This is something that's not going to go away in the next few months, it will be a long lasting project that will go into next summer. So we'll be bringing a group of South Brunswick volunteers down there as often as possible."