CCR – Asbury Park Press | Students from Calvary Christian School, Old Bridge clear the boardwalk in Ocean Grove


Written by Susanne Cervenka,, November 13, 2012. Photo courtesy of Stephen Reyes

David Gates was supposed to be in the Dominican Republic right now on a mission trip, but flooding from superstorm Sandy postponed that.

But instead of grumbling about an opportunity delayed, the 17-year-old from Jackson and the majority of juniors and seniors from Calvary Christian High School in Old Bridge rolled up their sleeves to help residents in the Ocean Grove section of Neptune.

“The purpose of going (to the Dominican Republic) was to really help people – to bring the love of God to the people that don’t know about it,” Gates said.

With so many people hurting in his own state, Gates said the goal of the mission can be achieved at home.

Of the 30 juniors and seniors at the school, 28 students traveled to Ocean Grove last week. There, some students went door to door offering residents help with whatever they needed done in their homes. Others swept sidewalks and did work to clear the boardwalk.

Gates said he didn’t realize the impact such a small effort could have until a man in a wheelchair had thanked one of the pastors leading the students. The blocked sidewalks meant he had been trapped in his home.

“None of us had really thought of that,” Gates said. “There were people that were severely blessed by that.”

The students’ cleanup trip is just the beginning of the help local Calvary Chapel churches are offering to the Sandy recovery effort.

Calvary Chapel Old Bridge, which oversees Calvary Christian School, and Cornerstone Calvary Chapel in Howell have been working together since the day after Sandy hit to form a local relief effort.

The idea was that the two churches working together could make a larger impact than they would working separately, said Chris McCarrick, the pastor at Cornerstone.

“We’re not sure how long the relief effort will go, but we certainly know the need of the Jersey Shore towns are going to be longterm,” he said.

The two churches tapped into Calvary Chapel Relief, a nationwide network of Calvary Chapel churches, to bring in resources from across the country. For example, a pastor at a Calvary Chapel in Maine who is also a lumberjack is bringing a team of lumberjacks to help.

The relief efforts will expand throughout the beachside communities. It started in Ocean Grove because of a connection the Old Bridge church had with the town through the annual Christian music concert it hosts there, said Carol Eskaros, communications director for the Calvary Chapel Old Bridge.

“What’s amazing is our church has already had a great relationship with Ocean Grove, but this is a whole new level,” she said. – Asbury Park Press