Shore area charities are the big winners of Oceanfirst Foundation's first ever internet-based Charity Challenge. Foundation Executive Director Kathy Durante says the charities raised over $300,000 in the four-week Crowdrise Challenge, with the top three winners awarded an additional $15,000 thousand in grants from the foundation.

"So the fact that this Charity Challenge has brought in, all told, including our prize money, more than $300,000 is just amazing!" Durante said. "We are just absolutely astonished at just how great the charities came out."

Pet sanctuary Seer Farms took first place, raising over $55,000 thousand dollars, followed by Count Basie Theatre's Bus-In program which raised nearly $43,000. Third place went to the Brick Children's Community Theatre, which raised almost $34,000.

According to Durante, an eclectic group of 69 shore area non-profits participated in Charity Challenge. "A lot of them are well known within the community but we did have a few organizations that we had never really even heard of that kind of emerged as front runners and really kind of in the pack," Durante said describing the last 24 hours of the fundraiser as a real nail-biter.

OceanFirst Foundation is planning to have an award ceremony and will announce the date in the near future. Get details about the 69 participating charities and how much they raised at oceanfirstfdn.org.