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KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink

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Kaboomfest and United Way of Monmouth County Announced Winners of "Tough Times Can’t Take Away Our Sparkle & Shine" Essay Contest for Monmouth County Students

Red Bank, NJ, June 23, 2010 --( In an effort to give back to the community, KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink! (KaBoomFest) and The United Way of Monmouth County teamed up this year to present an essay contest open to all Monmouth County students in grades 5 through 12. The premise of the essay contest was for student’s to demonstrate how their families, despite difficult economic hardship have found a way “to sparkle and shine.” KaBoom wanted to recognize these families and in a modest way provide some financial relief.

In a press conference on June 14, 2010 at The Oyster Point Hotel, Red Bank, five Monmouth County students were presented with a $1,000 check. Peter Reinhart, Chairman of KaBoom and Timothy Hearne Jr., CEO of the United Way of Monmouth County addressed the families, community leaders, press and KaBoom Committee members in what was a moving event. Hearne read excerpts from the winning essays and then students were presented with an oversized check by Reinhart, Hearne, and Cathy Murray of Investors Savings Bank, Red Bank. Investors Savings Bank is the 2010 Sparkle & Shine Sponsor.

The winners of the “Tough Times Can’t Take Away Our Sparkle and Shine” student essay contest are: Rocco Urgo - Grade 7 - Mother Teresa Regional School, Atlantic Highlands NJ; Jack Cole - Grade 8 - Avon Elementary School, Avon NJ; Zack Dresher - Grade 6 - Memorial Middle School, Freehold NJ; Melissa Rodriguez - Grade 12 - Manasquan High School, Manasquan NJ; and Ricci Noel Bigelow - Grade 5 - Ocean Twp. Intermediate School, Ocean NJ. Winners were chosen among 235 applicants across Monmouth County schools.

“We had to sell our house to cope with the tough economy. My mom was laid off and the bills caught up with her. We downsized to a three-room apartment, it’s a pretty big adjustment. I have a bedroom, which is the biggest room in the apartment. On the other hand my mom doesn’t have a room because we couldn’t afford a two-bedroom apartment. She sleeps on a pullout couch in the living room. We were able to take our cat, Bella, and the fact that we’re all together is what matters most…we still have our sparkle and shine," says Rocco Urgo.

Peter Reinhart says, “Like fireworks on the Navesink celebrating our Nation’s independence, we believe that certain values are unwavering in both good times and bad. The 235 children who submitted essays know first-hand how the economy is affecting their family. Their moving stories touched our hearts, and their determination to keep their families together and never lose their Sparkle & Shine, despite difficult personal circumstances, captures the best qualities of our community here in Monmouth County.”

Five individual prizes of $1,000 each were presented to each of the five winners selected by an impartial panel of judges from local non-profit agencies, schools, universities and The United Way of Monmouth County. Judges included: Dr. Damien Medina, Red Bank Middle School, Red Bank NJ; Cassie Dorn, Red Bank Regional High School, Red Bank NJ; Karen Kircher, Monmouth Cares, West Long Branch, NJ; Justin Hock, Marlboro High School, Marlboro NJ; Suzanne Kaminski, Community Member, Monmouth County NJ; Colleen Meyer, Monmouth Cares, West Long Branch NJ; Kaarina Romero, United Way of Monmouth County, Farmingdale NJ; and Janet Dolan, Principal, St. James School, Red Bank NJ.

“Seeing how their parents are working harder to make less go farther, these students used the Tough Times Can’t Take Away Our Sparkle and Shine essay contest to express how their families, like so many others, are working together on things like saving money, helping out their neighbors, accepting more responsibility around the house, or finding jobs to pay for their education or chip in at home,” says Timothy Hearne, Jr. He added, “The United Way of Monmouth County is pleased to partner with KaBoom on this project because we are focused on the community impact of our current economy, especially in the areas of education, income and health. This essay contest gives our children a voice to express how they are being transformed by this moment in time, and helps them to focus on the timeless values that have helped to sustain our Nation throughout history.”

Cathy Murray, says (Investors Savings Bank) was “proud to be a part of KaBoom and support The United Way because the Sparkle & Shine Campaign dovetails with Investors’ core values in strengthening community.” She added, “A great way to support our community is by supporting the children of our community.”

KaBoomFest and The United Way of Monmouth County plan to continue this essay contest in the years ahead, and invite local and regional companies to support through various sponsorship levels. “As KaBoom has expanded into KaBoomFest, our mission has also expanded, reaching into the community in a tangible and meaningful way through the Tough Times Can’t Take Away Our Sparkle and Shine essay contest,” says Reinhart. A video on the authors of the winning essays and the background of the Sparkle and Shine Essay Contest will be presented in the Red Bank parks as part of the KaBoomFest activities on July 1, 2 and 3. Springpoint Senior Living is the presenting sponsor of KaBoomFest.

For more information on KaBoomFest and the Sparkle & Shine Essay Contest, visit

Contact Information
KaBoom Fireworks on the Navesink
Stacey Donovan
732-212-9444 ext 116

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