Year in Review: Voorhees Animal Orphanage launches campaign to raise funds for a new facility.

Check out what other stories were the biggest in the Voorhees Sun during the month of February.

Voorhees Animal Orphanage launches campaign to raise funds for new facility continues

At the beginning of 2016, VAO officials announced a $1.6 million “Take Me Home” capital campaign. The non-profit hopes to raise the funds necessary to consolidate several outdated and separate outbuildings on its grounds into one new, modernized structure.

“You take a look around here and you see that this is not a beautiful place,” VAO Board President and volunteer Dave Semless said. “It does great things, but we need help. We constantly have fix-up projects.”

With 15 staff members, Semless said the VAO has an annual operating budget of about $450,000, with only one-third of funding coming from municipalities for services rendered, with the remaining coming from fundraising and donations. Semless said the VAO receives no state or federal funding.

Marketing Director Jennifer Bailey said VAO has been on an upward trend over the past two years with their adoption rate up almost 40 percent and had their 1,000 adoption for the year on Nov. 2.

“We are doing really great things, but imagine if we didn’t have to spend all our money on gluing the building together every time the building breaks,” she said. “We are still looking for that golden angel. Once you see the building and out offices in sheds, it strikes you.”

As of November, it has raised $500,000.

For more information on the VAO’s capital campaign, visit www.vaonj.org.

Eastern Regional High School renames gym after longtime former wrestling coach John Sanders

For 37 years former Eastern Regional High School wrestling coach John Sanders impacted the lives of countless wrestlers who trained under his guidance.

In February of this year those wrestlers and the school decided to give back to Sanders by renaming the school’s auxiliary Gym №3 to the John P. Sanders Gymnasium.

The legacy of Eastern’s wrestling team under Sanders speaks for itself, with seven Olympic Conference Championships in 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991 and 1998, six District Championships in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1998, 2001 and 2002 and two South Jersey Group 3 Sectional Championships in 1983 and 1985.

Sanders, who retired from Eastern in 2002, left the school with 24 winning seasons and a career record of 423–210–6.

During his time Eastern Sanders was also responsible for coaching three state champions, 15 state finalists, 27 regional champions, 44 regional finalists and 87 district champions.

The push to honor Sanders and his legacy came from of his former students, who decided Sanders deserved his due after Sanders fell one morning in early 2015 outside and suffered bleeding in his brain.

During the ceremony honoring Sanders and the gymnasium named in his honor, Sanders simply said he was humbled.

“I told a lot of people that this was like having my funeral before I die because I got to see an awful lot of people I hadn’t seen in years and an awful lot of nice things said to me that I would not have heard the other way,” Sanders said.