Chris and Mary Pat Christie are proud of the fact that the New Jersey 30 Day Fund they’ve already started funding 120 applications – at least one for each of the state’s 21 counties – and are excited to have been able to help small businesses they say may have fallen through the cracks of other programs .
And, although they still have around $ 250,000 in cash, they are frustrated that their fundraising efforts have plateaued.
The Christies, who started the fund with a personal pledge of $ 100,000, had hoped to quickly reach $ 1 million. They are currently stuck at around $ 800,000, said Mary Pat Christie.
The problem: Businesses in this state are starved of donations, they said.
They noted three companies specifically that helped – PNC Bank, Investors Bank and South Jersey Industries – but said most of the rest of the money came from individual families, including two who donated $ 100,000.
Mary Pat Christie said she hasn’t given up on the fight for corporate giving.
“I continue to work with others,” she said. “I’m not saying they aren’t going to give in the end. But it was not easy. “
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Chris Christie, the former governor, said the fact that the fund only started six weeks ago has hampered his ability to raise funds. And he noted that many companies jumped in early with millions of dollars worth of donations and supplies to food banks, hospitals and relief funds.
With that in mind, he said he was happy to see how many successful individual families are ready to give back.
The need, said Mary Pat Christie, is there. She said she has watched hundreds of home videos – which are needed as part of the application process – and is often left in tears.
“Honestly, it was heartbreaking watching these videos,” she said. “Some small business owners cry. You see their storefronts empty – and a lot of them uploaded their videos from their kitchen tables because their studios can’t be opened.
The Christies said they have received more than 3,000 requests. And, even though they know they won’t be able to grant them all, they hope to raise more money to help more businesses.
Former Seton Hall basketball star Bryan Caver runs one of the businesses that were helped.
Caver is the CEO of Taste of Heaven Sports and Entertainment Group and the head trainer of Hoop Skillz Elite. Both are located in Trenton, where he grew up – and where his father was a legendary figure in children’s recreational programs.
Caver said he was using his grant to help run more programs and camps for children in an effort to keep them on track.
These are the types of businesses the Christies say they want to help the most.
“Bryan is indicative of the type of businesses that we try to help – people who really have a community spirit and become a big part of the fabric of their community,” said Chris Christie. “So if these businesses are lost, we not only lose jobs for the people who work there, the people who started the business, we also lose part of the fabric of the community’s culture. “
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