MANVILLE, NJ – Firefighters, police and other first responders who battled the massive warehouse fire at Veterans Industrial Park in Hillsborough last month are invited to a tribute dinner April 2 at the Manville VFW, 600 Washington Ave.

Dinner is free to all members of the 107 fire departments, rescue squads and other first responders that were involved in the Feb. 11 through Feb. 12 fire that destroyed 500,000 square feet in two buildings at the World War II-era warehouse and distribution complex on Route 206 owned by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

The buffet dinner begins at 6 p.m. There will be live entertainment, giveaways and awards, concluding at 10 p.m.

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Host and organizer of the event is Derek R. Basista, CEO and president of Charity Events Group, a Manville-based non-profit corporation that helps other non-profits with their business needs and fund raising.

“After that fire, I knew I had to do something,” Basista said. “I just wanted to say ‘thank you,’ but on a grand scale."

Since launching the effort last month, Basista has raised $2,925 at GoFundMe.com; $1,065 in checks and $250 in cash.

Local and state officials will attend and express their appreciation to the firefighters and first responders.

With just a few days to go before the event, Basista is still looking for some help reaching the $10,000 goal. Various sponsorships are available:

  • Food Sponsor - $500 donation.
  • Event Night Signage – Company name or person(s) name(s) listed on sponsorship posters at the event; logo & link on the Charity Events Group website, which receives 200-plus hits every 24 hours, according to Basista.Table Signage – Company logo or individual’s name on 1 table placard, and a “Thank You” letter for the contribution.
  • Silver Sponsor - $1,000 donation.
  • Event Night Signage – Company name or person(s) name(s) listed on sponsorship posters at the event; logo & link on the Charity Events Group website, which receives 200-plus hits every 24 hours, according to Basista.Table Signage – Company logo or individual’s name on 3 table placards; logo and link on any printed material for the event and a “Thank You” letter for the contribution.
  • Bronze Sponsor - $1,500 donation. 
  • Event Night Signage – Company name or person(s) name(s) listed on sponsorship posters at the event; logo & link on the Charity Events Group website, which receives 200-plus hits every 24 hours, according to Basista.Table Signage – Company logo or individual’s name on 5 table placards; logo and link on any printed material for the event and a “Thank You” letter for the contribution.
  • Gold Sponsor - $2,500 donation
  • Event Night Signage – Company name or person(s) name(s) listed on sponsorship posters at the event; logo & link on the Charity Events Group website, which receives 200-plus hits every 24 hours, according to Basista.Table Signage – Company logo or individual’s name on 8 table placards; logo and link on any printed material for the event and a “Thank You” letter for the contribution.

Basista is also looking for a professional photographer to donate five hours of their time the night of the event.

Whatever money remains after dinner expenses are paid will be donated to the New Jersey Fallen Firefighters Memorial Fund, according to Basista.

Other donations already received from merchants include $250 gift card from the Hillsborough ShopRite; $500 from WakeFern, parent corporation of the Hillsborough ShopRite; a donation of 200 pounds of potatoes and four cases of peanuts for the dinner from Five Guys of Hillsborough; a large sheet cake and 500 cupcakes from Cait’s Cakes of Sumnerly Sweets in Hopewell and the Outback Steak House of Princeton has donated 11 free appetizer cards and eight $10 gift cards to use as giveaways during the dinner.

Local band Heritage 3 has donated its time and will provide the entertainment at the dinner; East Coast Photo Booths has also donated a photo booth for the evening.

Speakers will include: state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman; Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli and Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker; Hillsborough Mayor Frank DelCore; Millstone Mayor Raymond Heck; Manville Mayor Richard Onderko; and Hillsborough Fire Commissioners Bruce Vatter, John Catrombon Jr. and Patrick Buckley. 

Event sponsors and first responders interested in attending the dinner can contact Basista at 855-405-7768 or by email atderekb@charityeventsgroup.com.