JACKSON — It has been a year and a half since we've checked in with the James Volpe Foundation, which is approaching a decade of staging several annual events designed to award scholarships to township high school students.

John Mucia Jr., vice president and co-chairman of the organization, was a friend of Volpe's. Volpe was killed in an auto accident just before his 18th birthday in May 2011. Mucia said he's aware of research that indicates most nonprofits only stay in operation for about five years, so he is proud to see Volpe's legacy live this long. He said the foundation's future is "rock solid."

And with the money raised through events like the Winter Dinner Dance, coming up Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Knights of Columbus on Bartley Road in Jackson, the organization is also able to support advocacy groups like Students Against Destructive Decisions.

"If we could help spread awareness and even help save one life, then we've done our job," Mucia said.

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The initial idea that morphed into the Winter Dinner Dance was centered around Valentine's Day, but Mucia said he and his fellow organizers felt that might feel exclusionary to anyone who didn't have a date for the holiday. The dance is the newest event of the main trio that the foundation brings back every year, in addition to a golf outing and a Wiffle ball tournament, and Mucia said preparations as well as interest have remained fairly constant in its first few years.

"While there are some overlaps of people that come to the golf and the Wiffle ball, I think that this particular crowd is a different crowd than comes to the other two events," he said.

In a larger sense, Mucia said that the varied people who show interest in these events means the foundation is not always hounding the same people for money, and that their reach has grown across the state and even beyond New Jersey's borders.

The Winter Dinner Dance is expected to sell out. The age 18-and-up event is capped at 120 tickets on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those who can't attend are always welcome to donate and find out more at jamesvolpefoundation.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 patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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