Rock for Kids raises $4,500 for the hungry in Cape May County

Christopher South jams on his ukulele with drummer James Washington.
Christopher South jams on his ukulele with drummer James Washington.

The day’s lineup included all the Cape May County classics: Stellar Mojo; Twelve 01; Rocket Sauce; Bluebone; Bosom Band.

There’s only one place this summer you could have heard them all in one place: the Knights of Columbus annual Rock for Kids Music Festival.

In spite of soaring temperatures, the bands kept the music coming for six hours straight, donating their time to an event that raises funds to feed the hungry in Cape May County.

Sponsored by Knights of Columbus Maris Stella Council 3546 in Erma, the music festival, family carnival more than doubled from last year, raising $4,500 in proceeds that will stock the shelves of Catholic Charities’ Cape May County Family and Community Services Center food pantry. The pantry serves 550 clients every year.

“People had a great time and everything we’ve heard is that we’ve grown it the right way,” said Dan Gilliam Jr., Deputy Grand Knight and head organizer of the festival. “Hunger is a big problem in our community and we have to do what we can.”

Despite its reputation as a beach resort, in Cape May County 14 percent of the population experiences “food insecurity,” a lack of access to adequate food; over 13,500 individuals. Fifteen percent of the county’s children live below the poverty line.

Food pantries, like Catholic Charities’ in Rio Grande, help to fill the need for food for impoverished families in the county, and they depend on the unflagging dedication of groups like the Knights of Columbus Maris Stella Council. Last year the council donated 17,000 pounds of food to the pantry, jumpstarted by the Rock for Kids festival and sustained by members throughout the year.

This year, the event added additional carnival games, keeping classics like the dunk tank and bounce house, and an antique car show. The Lower Township Moose Lodge donated their grounds for the carnival. Knights of Columbus served up all-you-can-eat barbecue while families enjoyed the music and games.

“It’s like a state fair, a big backyard barbecue,” Gilliam said. “It’ll keep growing every year.”