Here is a fantastic community event for school-age children and families in the Southern Monmouth County area.

Hurricane Sandy will forever be in our memories. We've seen up close the destruction and now we are focusing on recovery and rebuilding.

But there are internal storms that come with trying to put the pieces back together and recreate a normal but changed life. Our children and families have survived this catastrophe...but emotionally they could still be internalizing and struggling with the Superstorm and its aftermath.

Manasquan High School, Manasquan Elementary School, and several Monmouth County organizations are planning an afternoon of recovery on February 10th to provide children and families in their sending district communities the opportunity to take a few hours to acknowledge their resilience and fortitude.

The Starfish Project is designed by NJ mental health professionals with nationally recognized expertise in addressing the needs of children and families after traumatic events (including September 11th). The program will include discussion, activities, and contests that will focus participants on the personal and family strengths that will help them in the challenging process of rebuilding.

This will be a structured community day open to 150 children and families. It will be held at the First Presbyterian Church in Manasquan and sonsored and supported by local agencies, groups, and individuals. This event is flexible enough to address the needs of children from elementary through high school. To make it easier for families with young children to attent, babysitting will be provided for pre-school aged children - free of charge.

Despite support from a variety of community groups and organizations, The Starfish Project still needs help. Here are 3 ways you can help:

1. Financial donations, no matter how small, will be gratefully accepted. Donations can be directed to The Starfish Project c/o The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide, 110 West Main St. Freehold, NJ 07728. (This is a 501c3 organization so donations are tax deductible.)

2. Supplies for the group activities. These include scissors, staple guns, duct tape, masking tape, markers, sea glass, paper supplies...all sorts of things to help participants be creative. The project coordinator, Marney Rohda, can provide a complete list of needed items. Contact her at

3. Words of encouragement, in whatever form, from your students to the students in the high school, and elementary schools in Manasquan, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Belmar, Avon, and Brielle.

In addition to the day itself, the winners of the poster, video, poetry, song and essay contests (submitted prior to the event) will be announced and the cash prizes for elementary and high school students will be awarded. Topics for contests will be descriptions, stories, pictures of the brave and courageous things students observed being done in the aftermath of the storm.

For more information, click here. Or like the Star Fish Project on Facebook. You can also call Mrs. McCoy at MHS: 732-528-8820, ext. 1036, or Ms. Sanders at MES: 732-528-8810, ext. 2201.