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Ocean County Charity Needs Help Rebuilding After Toms River Fire [AUDIO]

After helping thousands of Superstorm Sandy victims rebuild their lives, an Ocean County charity finds itself with no place to go after losing everything in Thursday’s fire in downtown Toms River.

Hometown Heroes
Hometown Heroes (Image courtesy of Hometown Heroes via Facebook)

Hometown Heroes was located on the second floor of the building on Robbins Avenue that burned down. The non-profit organization lost hard drives, paperwork and cash. Also lost was a signed guitar from the musical group Three Doors Down that was intended to be raffled off.

Mike Schwartz, co-founder of Hometown Heroes, said it’s the loss of the sentimental items that hurts them the most.

“We had a wall of 300 thank you cards from all the people we helped that we really cherished because it reminded us of why we do what we do here.”

Schwartz said they didn’t have renters insurance and weren’t allowed to return to the building to salvage anything.

Since its inception in 2008, Hometown Heroes has helped over 10,000 people and has distributed over $2 million, most of which went to Sandy victims.  The organization provides assistance to those dealing with drug abuse, domestic violence and homelessness.  The group also provides food for the elderly.

Hometown Heroes
Hometown Heroes Founders Jennifer Barna and Mike Schwartz (Rosetta Key, Townsquare Media)

“We have a backlog of files of quite a few hundred people now. It’s not just Sandy victims – its sick kids, homeless people, things like that,” Schwartz said.

After Sandy, the group was chosen to lead the Restore the Shore (a Townsquare Media property) Hurricane Sandy relief campaign.

Hometown Heroes is accepting donations on their website.  Additionally, a GoFundMe page has been set up for donations with the goal of raising $10,000.




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