MONMOUTH RUGBY CLUB FLIPPING OUT

A promotional video for Saturday’s Flip For Good fundraiser in Tinton Falls. (Video courtesy of Pat Moroney)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Ever find yourself up at some ungodly hour flipping through TV channels and suddenly becoming engrossed in a bunch of barrel-chested men with hard-to-pronounce names carrying oversized objects?

Here’s your live, local edition, and for a good cause.

On Saturday, members of the Monmouth Rugby Football Club will test their strength against tires as tall as they are and flip them for money in the first “Flip For Good” fundraiser.

“We’re picking up ridiculous things that you wouldn’t think are part of a workout,” said Rob Morello, the club’s president.

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FUNDRAISERS BRING WARMTH TO AREA

toy-story-3-disney-pixarBuzz, Woody and the gang are back for one more big-screen adventure, when TOY STORY 3 returns for a special showing at Clearview Cinemas to benefit Bridge of Books.

Done2While wobbling and shivering across the frozen tundra of what can only be called Red Bank Greenland, you’d do good to bear in mind that in the Caribbean, the sun is shining and the thermometer is expected to hit the low to mid 80s. And you’ll have Done Good to bear in mind that in Haiti, the hard-hit victims of last year’s earthquake are still in need of a helping hand.

One is being extended to the beleaguered nation from Red Bank’s own Pilgrim Baptist Church. From now until Wednesday, February 16, the Haiti Relief, Recovery and Restoration Initiative of Red Bank (in partnership with Aslan Youth Ministries) is seeking donations of school supplies — everything from pencils, erasers, crayons and rulers to composition books and solar calculators — for distribution to elementary school students in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The small northeastern city will be the site of a groundbreaking for a new community medical clinic, and a Mission Work Team from the Initiative will be delivering the school supplies when they travel to Ouanaminthe on the week of February 21-27.

You can drop off donated items at Pilgrim Baptist (172 Shrewsbury Avenue); you can learn more about the Mission Work Team trip by calling Bernadette Marshall or Pastor Terrence Porter at (732)747-2348 — and you can brace yourself for another seasonal blast of Done Good action, right around the corner.

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DOIN’ GOOD, IN DOLDRUM DAYS

beatlemania1Alan LeBouef (at right, as Paul) leads the Stars of BEATLEMANIA in a fab fundraiser for the Red Bank Rotary Club, at Two River Theater.

Done2In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the January Doldrums for sure. And with most of us variously tapped out, snowed in or plowed under, the conventional wisdom holds that you  simply don’t schedule much of anything in the way of fundraiser events here in the season of slush.

That said, a handful of brave businesspeople and nonprofits are apparently ignoring the memo, offering a variety of constructive reasons to venture gingerly down the sidewalk and out of the house — and maybe just maybe do a little bit of the Done Good deed in the process.

A roundup of suggested January jaunts follows forthwith.

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GOING IN FOR THE SHOT

Dozens of celebrants ran into the Atlantic surf  for the annual polar bear plunge at the Mad Hatter in Sea Bright on New Year’s Day.

Among them: redbankgreen‘s Trish Russoniello, who grabbed her point-and-shoot and went in up to her neck. Here are some of her pix.

(To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.)

DOUBLE DUNK TO START ’11

mad-hatterOne of two ocean plunges will take place at the Mad Hatter in Sea Bright Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

So you’re planning your New Year’s morning and thinking you’d like to do something stupid. Look no further.

All you have to do is decide where you’d like to execute your first questionable decision of 2011 — Sea Bright or Asbury Park.

Keeping with tradition sprouted eight years ago at Donovan’s Reef, two separate groups of locals will host New Year’s Day plunges into the Atlantic to raise money for charities.

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CAROLING FOR COATS

dscf3058About a dozen Rumson kids took to the streets with candles and Santa chapeaux Monday night, singing Christmas carols to residents in exchange for winter coats. It’s an annual tradition in town, and all jackets collected are donated to Lunch Break in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

DRIVING IN THE HOLIDAYS

toy-drive1The Rumson Department of Public Works held its 11th annual toy drive Friday and Saturday. DPW Director Mark Wellner said the department normally collects an average of 700 toys each year, but by Saturday morning was on track to bringing in more toys than ever before. “We’re hoping for a thousand. That’s our goal,” he said. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

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…AND TO ALL A ‘DONE GOOD’ NIGHT

valslegrandPop Warner coaches (and Val’s Tavern owners) Chris and James Smith, left, hosted a fundraising event December 2 at their landmark Rumson pub for the benefit of Rutgers football star Eric LeGrand. Proceeds from special auction items and sales of “Believe Fund” merchandise were dedicated to the Scarlet Knights defensive tackle, who sustained a paralyzing injury during October’s Army-Rutgers game.

donegoodlogoIt’s ALL Good, as they say on TV — at least during this jingliest of seasons, in which collection cans and kettles can be found on street corners and stripmall sidewalks and in which bins and boxes for food/ clothing/ toy drives are sighted most everywhere you look.

Whether you’re dodging carolers and horse-drawn carriages on your way to some weekend errands, or making a special trip out to the Count Basie Theatre (where several high-profile benefit concerts make a joyful noise in the coming nights) or  Two River Theater (where an ongoing pet food drive continues for the run of  Charlotte’s Web), you’ve got plenty of chances to Do Good here in December — and for this month’s Done Good roundup, we’ve got a few more recommendations coming right up; only a couple of which have anything to do with Santa Claus.

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TROPHY, CHARITY UP FOR GRABS IN GAME

r-fhRumson-Fair Haven will match up against Matawan tomorrow for the state sectional championships. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Mike Halfacre: mayor, triathlete, gambling man.

As Rumson-Fair Haven preps for the NJSIAA sectional state championship matchup against Matawan tomorrow, Fair Haven’s Hizzoner has placed a wager with Matawan’s mayor on the outcome.

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PROWN’S 2011 CALENDAR: A WEST SIDE STORY

d-prownDavid Prown poses with the January 2011 photo from his store’s calendar. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As soon as he set out the stacks of last year’s inaugural Prown’s Remembers Red Bank calendar, David Prown realized that he had a long-lasting project on his hands.

“We knew from day one last year it was a hit. It was received so well,” said Prown, owner of Prown’s Home Improvement on Monmouth Street. In fact, he’s already roughed out the next 10 to 15 years’ worth of calendars, he says.

But let’s focus on 2011.

This edition showcases Prown’s favorite place in Red Bank — the West Side.

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DONE GOOD: TURKEY-TIME POTS AND TROTS

holiday-express-1A packed-greenhouse crowd at Sickles Market raised $72,500 last Friday night for Holiday Express, the rolling musical extravaganza that brings good cheer this time of year to 50 or so audiences. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

Done2A great American (Patrick Henry? Paul Bunyan? Leo Gorcey?) once observed, “They also Done Good, who stand and wait.” And as most of us wait here in the all-clear zone between the chaos of Halloweelection Day and the holiday hyperdrive heralded by Black Friday, we remind you that November continues to offer more than a few ways in which to Do Good.

It could be as easy as contributing a couple of bucks or some nonperishable items to any of the many food banks that operate year-round on the greater Red Bank green. A donation to an area toy drive. Or a helping hand for your neighborhood school, church and youth organization to help others, simply by attending (and having a blast at) one of the fun events scheduled for the days and weeks to come.

We’ve got a few recommendations right around the corner, so pass the candied yams and dig on in.

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A HEAPING HARVEST OF GOOD DEEDS

roseharrystevenshoganClockwise from top left: Village People chief Felipe Rose, Blondie bombshell Debbie Harry, funk bassmaster TM Stevens and  actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan are the honorees at the Monmouth County Arts Council’s annual Celebration of Excellence on October 29.

There’s a school Halloween party in which the parents are the ones who get to dress up and have all the fun. A gala affair in which the solid-citizen guests of honor are, to put it mildly, NOT the usual old rich guys with their checkbooks. And a hot-ticket sporting event that not only takes place indoors — it barely loses sight of the office water cooler.

Done1Just because something’s Done Good by the community doesn’t mean it has to be done by the stodgy playbook of gowns, tuxes, and hundred-dollar plates of cordon bleu balanced on bony laps. Here in the season of merry mischief, we’re pleased to bring you a roundup of do-gooder public events with an ever so slightly playful bent — a list that begins this Friday, and continues on into the next few eek-ends.

FRIDAY: Oktoberfest at Ye Olde Allen House. The old Allen place, that historic (circa 1710) house on the corner of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue in Shrewsbury, becomes a Publick House for one night only, in a benefit for  The Monmouth County Historical Association that offers an evening of “beer tasting and tavern fare” in the spirit of the season. Reserve tickets ($50) at (732)462-1466.

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SRO FOR LUNCH BREAK

crowdThe lobby was filled, and bellies were, too, as donors and other supporters packed the theater lobby. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

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An event billed as a food-tasting extravaganza drew a full-house crowd to the spacious lobby of the Two River Theater Monday night.

The occasion was a $100-per-plate fundraiser for Lunch Break, Red Bank’s soup kitchen for the needy. More than a dozen local restaurants and spirits retailers offered their wares, and live entertainment created a “night of songs and tastes of old Italy” — the event’s theme.

Lunch Break’s shelves and coffers have been sorely tested by the recession, and donations of cash, canned food, clothing and volunteer time are welcome, officials say. To help out, go here.

A DO-GOODER’S GUIDE TO THE WEEKEND

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Images by Shrewsbury resident and official Monmouth Park photographer Bill Denver remain on display this weekend, as the Meridian Health Steeplechase returns the great steeplechase meet tradition to the greater Green on Saturday. (courtesy William Denver/ Equi-Photo)

There’s a chance to give a sick child access to the best available care, or give a talented teen a boost on pursuing her dream. Find a forever home for a rescued stray, or feed a hungry neighbor. Support your community’s volunteer responders, or even Touch a Truck for early education. All you have to do? Enjoy a great concert, take in a pleasant autumn afternoon, or chow down on some of the finest culinary creations from the kitchens of the greater ‘green.

Of course, if you don’t mind getting your fingernails dirty, we’ve got a community cleanup effort you can really sink your ankles into.

Yes, DONE GOOD is back on redbankgreen, and this time out we’ve put together advance word on five “fun”-raising endeavors, going on these final days of September. It’s a look into the feelgood future that almost begs a name change for this feature, from the past tense to something along the lines of “Gonna Do Good” or “The Best is Yet to Come.”

Before we give you the goods on our ten picks, here’s a reminder to revisit some weekend offerings that were written up recently in this space — including Saturday’s Red Bank Townwide Yard Sale, with proceeds from registration fees going to the event’s new host, the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library; cycling events for every style and pace (funds raised for the Count Basie Theatre Foundation and the local cancer support group The Wellness Community); a high-profile Jody Joseph concert on Saturday (proceeds dedicated to the women’s cancer retreat Mary’s Place By The Sea); and Sunday’s Only One Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival (a benefit for the Booker Cancer CenterCancer Institute of NJ and Red Bank RiverCenter’s townwide promotions).

It’s true what they say: you can Do Good and have fun doing it —and it all starts tonight, right around the corner.

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GREEN TEAMERS CLEAN UP

green-team1Volunteers from the United Methodist Church participated in the annual event along East Bergen Place, above, and in the East Side parking lots, below. (Click to enlarge)

green-team-2-042410Those folks you saw pulling crushed soda bottles from the weeds and picking up cigarette butts from Red Bank gutters on Saturday were volunteers.

As part of an annual cleanup effort in the downtown, congregants from the United Methodist Church on Broad Street joined with members of the borough Shade Tree Committee to collect trash and install mulch around trees.

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COAT GIVEAWAY SLATED FOR SATURDAY

Rbcc clothingA scene from a clothing giveaway held at the Red Bank train station last March.

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The folks at the Red Bank Community Church will be doing a clothing giveaway in the borough train station parking lot this Saturday, weather permitting.

The emphasis is on getting coats and warm clothing to people who need it, says Pastor Lenny Liebman, whose congregation meets just two blocks east on Monmouth Street.

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GIVING THANKS AND ENJOYING A HOT MEAL

img_5338112609The kitchen staff from Branches kicks into high gear at Lunch Break. (Click photos to enlarge)

Dominique Watson, seated next to her husband of six weeks, Roy Watson, had much to be grateful for yesterday.

“I’m thankful for my brand-new grandbabies, and my new husband,” the Red Bank resident said as she prepared to tuck into a turkey dinner at the Lunch Break on the borough’s West Side. “I’m thankful that the lord let me wake up this morning so I can share in this fellowship.”

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FOOD PANTRY LENDS A CARING HAND

img_109772A client signs in at the Project Loaves and Fishes food pantry at St. Anthony’s on a recent Tuesday night.

When Jeannette O’Bryant’s son and daughter-in-law lost their jobs recently, she ended up taking in some of their children — and needing a hand herself to feed them.

“I didn’t know which way to turn,” says the Red Bank resident.

Eventually, she discovered the Project Loaves and Fishes food pantry run out of St. Anthony of Padua R.C. Chruch on Bridge Avenue. There, once a week, she now stocks up on groceries, but can also avail herself of everything from used clothing to a personal computer.

But just as valuable to her as the material help, O’Bryant says, is that the volunteers at the church treat their clients, all of whom must register for the program, with dignity. She tells of seeing a man once being asked to leave because he was disruptive, but not before the pantry workers were sure he had the food his family would need.

“We’re uptight, we’re frustrated, we’ve been tormented by the economy,” she tells redbankgreen while waiting in line on a recent Tuesday night. “They’re wonderful. They help you out with food and clothing, and they do it with personality and understanding.”

obryant-3Jeannette O’Bryant says the people who run the pantry are “beautiful — I love them one-hundred percent.” (Click to enlarge)

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A CLEANUP, AND A RELEASE

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primary_school_cleanup-208About a dozen Red Bank adults and their children turned out for a site cleanup organized by board of education member Carrie Ludwikowski at the Red Bank Primary School last Saturday.

At right, Diana Archila-Donohue of Red Bank shows off a turtle that she released into the wetlands. Her husband, Brian, had rescued the turtle from the Garden State Parkway. (Photos by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge.)

WEST SIDE CLEANUP, TOYS FOR SEAN & MORE

west-side-cleanup1
An effort to spruce up the streets of Red Bank’s West Side in April 2008, above, will be reprised this Saturday.

Done3A West Side cleanup effort, a toy drive for a boy at the center of an international custody battle, and several education-related fundraising efforts mark this edition of Done Good.

The cleanup, scheduled for Saturday, June 20, starting at 8a., is the second annual edition of the effort, dubbed “Operation Inasmuch.”
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A WEEK’S WORTH OF WAYS TO HELP

Img_390172Thanksgiving at Lunch Break was on Branches Catering in 2008. On Monday night, the West Long Branch facility hosts some three dozen restaurants to raise funds for the Red Bank soup kitchen.

Done2This long-overdue edition of Done Good — a periodic rundown of what's happening locally in the realms of people helping people and their communities — has tons to choose from for readers looking to lend a hand in the coming week.

It includes a gourmet's-delight event on behalf of Norma Todd's Lunch Break in Red Bank; a beach cleanup and a riverfront cleanup; a swell affair at Garmany on behalf of cancer research; and an opportunity to re-tinge the town in the interest of women's health.

Here are some of the choices:

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SPA WORKERS GIVE FRIEND THE TREATMENT

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By JUDY DeHAVEN

Specials are common at the Milagro Spa, but most feature an exotic indulgence: ‘aromatic sugar scrubs,’  ‘stonecrop body wraps’ and ‘facial tea tree oil waxings,’ to name a few.

An event scheduled for Monday, March 2, is special for an entirely different reason: workers at Milagro will be donating everything they earn from 4p to 9p – tips included – to a co-worker in need.

The proceeds will go to Tracy Loessel, a Milagro nail technician and single mother of two who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 blood and bone cancer.

“Every single penny is going to her,” says Danielle DeFalco, a Milagro customer service representative who is helping to organize the event. “Five hours of time is the least we can do.”

The special event, called “Triumph for Tracy,” will also include auctions of a variety of prizes, from singing and art lessons to a bicycle and tickets to a Broadway play.

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PADDLE, PONY OR JUST PULL UP A CHAIR

2008seapaddleAndrew Mencinsky and a brigade of sea paddlers head down the Hudson River last year. They’ll be doing the same next week.

In May, 2007, a two-mile-wide tornado tore through the town of Greensburg, Kansas, destroying 95 percent of its homes and businesses. In the aftermath, citizens decided to resurrect their town, but with a modern twist: everything’s being done “green.” Public buildings are being constructed to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. Cars are being replaced with alternative fuel or hybrid ones. Farms are replanting organic.

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Red Bank retailer Hobbymasters — which plans to install the largest solar energy array in Red Bank and whose owner, Arlene Placer, is an avid tornado chaster — is helping out the Greensburg Greentown effort. The store has set up a page on its website through which visitors can donate solar science projects, hydroponics, fuel cell vehicle models and related materials to students at Greensburg High School, where there’s a new Green Club.

“At the end of August, we will be shipping all of the products to Greensburg,” says Arlene’s son, Alan Placer. “In addition, we will be providing the Greensburg school system with our wholesale pricing on future purchases for their science department.”

Customers can buy items for the schools and have them shipped free; for those who simply wish to donate a dollar to the Greenburg rebuilding effort, there’s that option as well on the Hobbymasters site.

Here’s a rundown of some Done Good events happening closer to home in coming weeks:

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