BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Historical Society is getting close to reaching its $17,000 goal to repair the borough’s “The Spirit of the Doughboy” statue.
Society members attended the borough council’s September 19 meeting with both a check and a fundraising goal thermometer in hand, showing that $14,000 has been collected through a host of fundraising events and activities.
“It brings us to 84 percent of our goal,” said BHS treasurer James Hohn in detailing the many contributions made to the effort — not only monetary gifts but in donated services particularly to this summer’s “Save the Doughboy” benefit concert. “What ended up happening is that every dollar donated (from the concert specifically) is going directly to the Doughboy,” he said.
Standing in Memorial Field on West Railroad Avenue, the 87-year-old monument was vandalized in September 2016 when a portion of its rifle was broken off and it was loosened from its base. No one has been arrested for causing the estimated $17,000 in damage.
Only in the past several months have fundraising efforts been accelerated, as a generous community has been rallying around the campaign, spearheaded by the volunteers of the Belmar Historical Society.
To show the borough’s appreciation, Belmar’s governing body at its meeting also presented the society with a resolution “to honor and congratulate its members for raising money to repair such an important historical monument.”
Of the $14,000 collected, nearly $6,000 resulted from the benefit concert, held at the Shillelagh Club, which donated use of its facility, and featuring the Pat Roddy Band, which also performed for free. In addition, nearly 30 restaurants and businesses donated food, gifts cards and raffle prizes to the event.
Another $3,000 also has been raised through a dedicated link to “Donate to Repair the Doughboy Statue” on Belmar’s website.
During his presentation on September 19, Hohn also thanked everyone for their monetary donations — large and small — made directly to the Doughboy Repair Fund, giving special recognition to the following larger contributors:
- Repetti Family estate
- Shillelagh Foundation
- George Lister
- Kevin T. McIver and Gretchen Schmidhausler
- Avon Historical Society
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Harold Daley Post 1333, Asbury Park
- Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1838, Manasquan
- American Legion Post 230, Spring Lake
- Knights of Columbus Council 5611, Spring Lake
- Mark and Mary Walsifer
- William Lister and Pat Melango
Erected in 1930 by the American Legion of Belmar then to recognize 102 borough residents who served in World War I, the Doughboy statue is one of eight such monuments in New Jersey created by sculptor Ernest Moore Viquesney. Visible from the Route 35 bridge in what is commonly known as Doughboy Park, the sculpture depicts a World War I infantryman advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of “No Man’s Land" with a rifle in his left hand and a grenade in his raised right hand.
Because the monument is made of pressed copper, Belmar Historical Society has run into difficulties obtaining bids for the repair project. However, it hopes to soon bring a proposal before the council so that the work can begin, including placing a light on the treasured monument, as well as a security camera.
To make a donation to the Save the Doughboy effort, visit Belmar’s website or call Belmar Historical Society at 908-309-3380.
Contributions, with checks payable to Belmar Historical Society, also can be made at Belmar Museum, 900 E Street, Street (annex of the Union Firehouse), Belmar, which is open Monday, 2 to 4 p.m., and Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon. “Save the Doughboy" T-shirts can also be purchased at the museum.
Donations also can be mailed to Belmar Historical Society, P.O. Box A, Belmar, NJ 07719.
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