ROXBURY, NJ – Roxbury police are nearing their goal of raising enough money to send 17 officers to the Police Unity Tour bicycle ride in May, an effort that should get a big boost March 3 when township schools will chip in with a “wear blue day” fundraiser.

As of Wednesday, the department’s Police Unity Tour “team page” showed that nearly $25,000 had been raised toward the $31,450 goal. Roxbury Police Lt. Silvio Valdes said many people chipped-in after reading a recent TAPinto Roxbury article describing his effort to raise the money.

“The article gave us a nice, big push,” Valdes said. “The last week or so it’s jumped up a few thousand dollars. It’s doing very well. Contributions are still coming in on a steady basis.”

Sign Up for E-News

Most Roxbury schools are asking students and faculty to wear as much blue as possible on March 3 as a show of support for the police hoping to ride in the charity event, said Kennedy School Principal Eric Renfors, who came up with the idea. He said students, parents and teachers will be donating money that day to the 17 prospective riders.

“When the article appeared last week, with Lt. Valdes appealing to the Chamber of Commerce, my PTA - on our Facebook page – was very anxious to try to do something to help, Renfors said. “I tried to think a little bigger and got every school on-board. The only one that isn’t going to participate is EMS (Eisenhower Middle School) because they will do something different for the Unity Tour in May.”

Renfors said he’s hoping a number of the police bicyclists will ride to the schools on March 3 to personally collect money that’s been raised. He said he would like to have the students out by the curb handing cash to the police as they ride up.

“This will give the district a chance to show our thanks for all the cops,” Renfors said. “It’s great there are so many people who want to help.”

On another front, the Roxbury Rotary Club, with assistance by its arm in the high school – the Roxbury High School Interact Club - is also raising money to help Valdes and his colleagues. An online “gofundme.com” page had collected about $300 as of Wednesday.

The effort was started by the Interact Club, but is being switched to Rotary Club control at the request of Roxbury Schools Superintendent Loretta Radulic. Although she said there is no formal policy about it, Radulic, a Rotarian, said she doesn’t want student groups running gofundme.com pages. “I don’t feel it’s appropriate for the school district to do those because they can go off in all different directions,” she explained.

During the Police Unity Tour, the police will ride bicycles about 310 miles – from Florham Park to Washington, D.C. in honor of police who died on duty.

Roxbury, in the past, had only several participants each year. However, 17 officers decided to ride this year as a memorial to former Roxbury Police Lt. Joseph Franklin who died during last year’s tour when he was involved in a multi-bicycle crash shortly after the ride began.

To ride in the tour, each officer must come up with $1,850.