Roxbury Arts, Hockey Fundraisers Squeezed by Township Good Intentions

Roxbury ice hockey players at annual paper shredding fundraiser last year
A scene from this year's Roxbury Beach Blast

ROXBURY, NJ – The good intentions of some Roxbury officials haven’t been so good for two non-profit Roxbury organizations, according to some people in those groups.

The Roxbury Arts Alliance found its biggest yearly fundraiser hampered financially by a township-related decision to make the annual Roxbury Beach Blast a free event and some members of the Roxbury High School Ice Hockey Booster Club are concerned the club’s big money-makers – two donation-based paper shredding events – will lose customers because the township now offers free paper shredding days.

“Now that the town has stolen our idea and decided to hold shredding events, it is more important than ever to get the word out for our fundraiser,” said a member of the hockey booster group in an email seeking publicity for the association’s Sept. 9 shredding day.

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The association member said the shredding days usually bring the hockey team some good money. “It’s a pretty easy fundraiser, frankly,” said the member. “The boys have to volunteer in hour-long shifts … Even after paying for the truck, we make close to $2,000 for four hours of work.”

Rain forced the postponement of the association’s May event. The township held its first “Roxbury Paper Shredding” day the next month at the township recycling center in Kenvil and about 65 cars came, resulting in about 4,200 pounds of shredded paper. “They did ask us when we were having ours so they could do it after,” said the person from the hockey group, "But we had to cancel ours because of the rain."

Township sponsored shredding days are the idea of Kellie Ann Keyes, Roxbury’s Clean Communities Program coordinator. She said she supports Roxbury hockey and had no intention of harming the booster club. “I’m friendly with all the hockey people,” Keyes said, adding she was unaware some in the club were unhappy.

Keyes said the township’s shredding efforts are funded by state recycling grant money, funds she is obligated to use for such purposes. She also said she always mentions the hockey fundraisers when people ask how to get rid of unwanted paper. “I don’t think they’re going to run out of people that need paper shredded,” said Keyes.

Keyes said she plans to have township shredding days twice yearly. The next one will be in September, the same month as the hockey booster club’s.

The township’s first shredding event took place June 15, the day after the 10th Annual Benefit Beach Blast, which is usually the main yearly fundraiser for the non-profit Roxbury Arts Alliance. In prior years, the group charged a small fee and usually raised about $6,000, money that went partially toward scholarships, said its president, Genevieve Schmidt.

This year – despite the concerns of some on the alliance’s board of trustees – the event was moved to the nearby Horseshoe Lake fairgrounds, expanded to include law enforcement displays and more carnival attractions and converted to a “donate if you want” admission policy. Roxbury Councilman Fred Hall said the changes were made to accommodate the growth of the Beach Blast and the fact that the Roxbury Police Department wanted to make it a “National Night Out” event.

Despite a threat of rain, the Beach Blast was fairly successful. The arts alliance estimated about 1,200 people attended, several hundred fewer than the most successful prior Beach Blasts.

“Everybody did have a great time,” said Schmidt. “Thanks to the police department for adding the free stuff - the games and and things like that. But financially it was a bust for us. It was a great time for the attendees and I’m happy about that. But it did not accomplish our goal of raising funds.”

The situation is prompting the arts group to go in a new direction when it comes to fundraising, according to Schmidt. It will no count on the Beach Blast to fill its coffers. “We’re moving on,” she said. “The plan is we’re looking for sponsors, either businesses or individuals.”

The organization will be creating a playbill on which sponsors can place advertisements. It also hopes to bring in more popular artists for shows at the Roxbury Performing Arts Center – Investor’s Bank Theater, Schmidt said.

She said Fullerton Grounds Management has “already stepped up” and is sponsoring an upcoming new event, “The Star Next Door Vocal Competition,” and she hopes other companies will be similarly generous. “That’s one out of our 10 events that is covered,” Schmidt said. “We are looking for businesses and people to sponsor whatever kind of music they like. If they sponsor an event, they get free seats.”

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