JACKSON — When 17-year-old James Volpe was killed in a 2011 car accident, the life of a bright young athlete and aspiring college student was cut much too short. But his memory is honored in the form of a foundation that bears his name. The organization is now preparing for its first major annual event of 2017.

James Volpe and his sister in 2010 (Photo courtesy Christine Volpe)

Last year was the first for the James Volpe Foundation's Winter Dinner Dance, the nonprofit's maiden attempt at holding a winter event. (Two other mainstays, a golf outing and a wiffle ball tournament, are once again scheduled for this summer.) John Mucia, a friend of Volpe's who is the vice president and co-chair of the organization, said he got "outstanding feedback" from the 2016 dance.

The group's aims remain the same in 2017: to raise money to provide scholarships at both Jackson Memorial and Jackson Liberty high schools, as well as at Kean University, where Volpe was planning to attend. Using the donations they receive, those involved with the group also give back to local families in need, especially around the holidays, and cover expenses like registration fees for youth sports.

Mucia said the contributions from residents of Jackson and surrounding communities are key.

"I want them to understand, and I want them to know on behalf of our organization, how much they mean to us in terms of coming out and supporting us, donating to us," Mucia said. "Without these people, we wouldn't be able to survive. People wouldn't be able to benefit from this, so we are really, really happy and thankful for such a good support base that we have here in town."

The Winter Dinner Dance will be Saturday, March 4, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus on Bartley Road in Jackson. The evening includes dinner, beer and wine, and dancing to music provided by a local DJ.

Check out our previous coverage of the James Volpe Foundation from 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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