First Financial Foundation Awards Superstorm Sandy Donations to Manahawkin Family

Press Release


Clarence and Judith Jones of Manahawkin receive a check from First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan at the credit union’s Toms River branch.

Toms River, NJ (6/24/13) – Clarence and Judith Jones of Manahawkin were delighted when they received a phone call from First Financial, letting them know they were the recipients of the First Financial Foundation’s Superstorm Sandy member donation drive.  The Jones’ met First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan, who presented them with a $330 check – most of which was collected from cash/change donation boxes that were placed in the credit union’s five branch locations in early 2013.

The First Financial Foundation was made aware that several of the credit union’s families were greatly affected by Superstorm Sandy, and wanted to contribute to the cause by helping the membership.  In early 2013, donation boxes for cash/change deposits were placed in all five of First Financial’s branch locations – as well as a link was placed on First Financial’s website for those who wanted to make an online contribution.  In addition, the Foundation contacted the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and had food collection bins placed in each of their five branch locations.  First Financial members, employees, and business account members contributed what they were able to the cause.

The First Financial Foundation received written assistance requests from 11 member families who were significantly impacted by the storm, and in April 2013 drew one of the 11 families at random to provide the amount collected from the donations.  The family drawn was that of Clarence and Judith Jones. The Jones’ home in Manahawkin, NJ was completely devastated from the storm. While their home is currently in the process of being rebuilt, the couple has been traveling back and forth between babysitting for grandchildren on Long Island and when in New Jersey, temporarily living in a camper belonging to their son, John Paul Jones, next to where their home used to be.

On receiving the donations from the First Financial Foundation – the Jones’ said, “We were managing just fine – patiently waiting as our home was being rebuilt, and residing in our camper when we were in New Jersey. Unfortunately, our camper’s water pump recently stopped functioning properly – and this generous donation will go toward its repair. We are very grateful to the First Financial Foundation and the First Financial members and employees who made contributions!”

“The main goals of the First Financial Foundation are to assist the local Monmouth and Ocean County community by providing college scholarships to area students, classroom grants to our schools, and contributing to other important causes which impact our community members in any way we can,” stated First Financial President & CEO, Issa Stephan.

Stephan also noted that while the Foundation wanted to be able to contribute more and give something to all of the affected member families, it wasn’t possible at this time due to the annual college scholarships that will be given out this summer and classroom grants later this fall. “Throughout the year the Foundation holds various fundraisers such as car washes, bake sales, craft fairs, and raffles in order to raise money for our annual donation campaigns. Superstorm Sandy wasn’t something anyone could’ve planned for – or known that it would affect the Jersey Shore area as much as it had. However, with our members needing help, we wanted to contribute as much as we could to those in need.  We hope our upcoming fundraising campaigns that will take place throughout the rest of this year will allow us to supply additional funds to the other ten member families who wrote to us,” said Stephan.

If you would like to donate to the First Financial Foundation, stop into any one of our branches or visit our website at and click on the donation button at the bottom of our homepage. For more information, you can contact the First Financial Foundation at or send direct requests to PO Box 1172, Toms River, NJ 08754-1172.

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