NEWARK — Based on a similar event staged in recent years in Pittsburgh, Thursday's Cool Down for Warmth on Championship Plaza at the Prudential Center will raise money to provide utility assistance grants to New Jersey families in need.

"These are folks that we assist who don't qualify for any other programs," Jim Jacob, president and CEO of New Jersey SHARES, said. "These are moderate-income households where just one thing can go wrong in their household finances, and then they need help to avoid having their service terminated."

NJ SHARES, a statewide energy assistance program marking its 20th anniversary in 2018, has the full cooperation of the New Jersey Devils, and numerous utility companies and other sponsors, in helping to raise awareness that no one in the Garden State should have to live in the cold.

The central feature of Cool Down for Warmth will be an 8'x12' ice house crafted by award-winning sculptor Ed Jarrett. Participants will sit in the ice house for a half hour as part of their fundraising pledge. Other family-friendly and hockey-themed activities, a selfie wall, and hot chocolate provided by the Salvation Army will all be available.

The ice house will be on full display all day Thursday, including Thursday evening when the Devils play the rival Philadelphia Flyers at The Rock. NJ SHARES is planning several VIP and celebrity drop-ins as well, including performers from NJPAC and Devils representatives.

"It's a wonderful commitment by many of our friends and neighbors to help make this successful, and the funds that we raise will go to helping people stay warm during the winter," Jacob said.

In the 20 years NJ SHARES has put its "neighbors helping neighbors" concept to work, Jacob said the program has been able to assist 185,000 New Jersey families and individuals. Learn more about Thursday's fundraiser at njshares.org/cooldownforwarmth.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. At age 13, he threw a remote control clear across his parents' house when the Devils lost Game 5 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals in triple overtime. The remote was taken away from him the next night, when the Devils won the Cup.

Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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