Originally published on SBReport.net on Dec. 16, 2012
Former Raiders great linebacker Phil Villapiano has co-founded The Foundation to Save the Jersey Shore in an attempt to help rebuild his native state of New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy swept across the East Coast during late October and caused billions of dollars worth of damage while leaving thousands of residents homeless.
The four-time Pro Bowler saw the devastation caused by Sandy and decided that him and his friends needed to help his fellow New Jersey residents.
“One day, when you’re sitting there and have people half a mile away from you, and businesses are gone, you sit there and thing ‘we’ve got to do something to help,’” Villapiano said. “So I was talking to a friend of mine named Brian, and then I called another named Kevin [Leahy], then I called another one named Warren [H. Diamond], and I called another one named Terry, and we all started getting on the phone ‘Yea, lets go, lets do something.’ Everybody’s chipping in.”
The end result: a non-profit organization put together to raise money and accept donations to help rebuild the Garden State.
Villapiano and company’s Foundation to Save the Jersey Shore is just three weeks old but has already made progress in what is proving to be a difficult task. Besides accepting monetary donations, the foundation is also gathering tools and supplies to assist in renovation.
“Last week, and we’ve only been around three weeks, we had a donor form Richmond, VA say ‘hey, we have a truckload of dry wall and it’s coming up there,” Villapiano said. “We brought it to Seabright and it was gone in two seconds. We’re trying to do everything we can just to help out. We will take anything that you’ve got, and 100 percent of it goes back to the people that hurt.”
Villapiano and the foundation are working closely with city and state officials to ensure that the donations go to “hot spots” and places of need.
“We have a group of mayors and we’re going to go to the towns and ask ‘where’s your hot spot?’” Villapiano stated. “Your football field is blown down? We’ll get you another one. You’re school is blown down? We’ll get you a new one.’ So what we are going to try and do is raise money and give it back to the people that need it. Every single penny, and I can’t believe how good the people are.”
In addition to gathering donations, the foundation is also in the process of planning numerous charitable events such as concerts. Villapiano hopes that the foundation will be able to put together a concert for the summer featuring numerous New Jersey-native musicians.
“It’s either going to happen at the start of the summer at the Garden State Center or at the very end of the summer, one or the other,” Villapiano said. “We have this thing called the Garden State Art Center, hopefully it all works out. Maybe Bruce [Springsteen] will come back, Joey will come back, Southside Johnny… we have all these Jersey artists and they all feel passionate like I do about our Jersey Shore. We are going to try and do as many events as we can to raise money.”
Villapiano came to California to light the torch in honor of Al Davis and hopes that his former family, the Raider Nation will contribute in helping rebuild one New Jersey.
“I’m out here in California, and if we’ve got any Raiders fans, it’s www.SaveJerseyShore.org, just do the website and there’s a little red button and you can donate.
“A little something about us, we’re there, we’re not going to go away and this thing isn’t going to go away for a long time so we’ll be there for as long as it takes to help rebuild,” Villapiano said. “The money, send it today, send it three months from now, who cares. Lets stick together and not forget what happened.”
For anyone interested in making a donation, visit www.SaveJerseyShore.org for more information.