Families in need benefit from volunteer group’s frightening event
FLORHAM PARK — In 2010, a year into her recovery from breast cancer, Karen Casolaro knew she had to give back in some way to the community that had supported her and her family through her fight.
So she founded Halos for Angels, which helps people suffering from sudden tragedy by providing support and services similar to what Casolaro received: things like daily meals, food shopping, and transportation for children (in Casolaro's case, five kids).
Recognizing that every family is unique and has different needs, Halos for Angels finds out what a specific recipient family needs, then puts the proper volunteers and resources to work.
"Our support and services, they change every day. They grow, they blossom," Casolaro said. "Because once more people find out about us, they want to give back."
Among the organization's partners are the Morris County Sheriff's Office and Bureau of Corrections, plus the Florham Park, East Hanover, and Hanover police departments, all of which are now participating at a monthlong, Halloween-themed fundraising event called Fright Factor.
This "pathway to terror," which has grown over the years to 3,000 square feet, was designed by Casolaro and her husband, an architect and engineer, with one of Halos for Angels' recipient families in mind. At the time, the family didn't have insurance and was in need of medical help, and so the concept of a haunted house was intended to raise awareness and bring the community together.
Last weekend, 15 county correctional police officers stood in as "ghoulish" actors meant to "scare the pants off" Fright Factor's guests, according to Casolaro. In the coming weeks (through Oct. 27), they'll be joined by officers from the aforementioned local police departments, plus some school principals and administrators.
"That's just an amazing thing that we're able to do together," Casolaro said. "Without the people in the community, we wouldn't exist."
Fright Factor also features weekly competitions — a bake-off, mask-off, and pet costume contest — each with a $200 prize for the winner.
The address for the event is 186 Ridgedale Ave. in Florham Park. For more information, visit halosforangels.org.
Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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