For more than two decades, Loretta Mikulski and her group of volunteers have worked to assist those battling breast cancer across New Jersey through the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition (SJBCC).
However, Mikulski, who herself is also a breast cancer survivor, said the Berlin-based nonprofit is currently facing hard times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is hoping for community and donor support to help keep the mission alive.
According to Mikulski, the SJBCC received 79 corporate donations in 2019, including donations from police departments, businesses and more, while also being on the receiving end of school fundraisers. The majority of the donations go toward assisting those going through treatment and help pay their essential bills while battling breast cancer.
In the wake of COVID-19, SJBCC’s donations have been cut by more than 75 percent, according to Mikulski.
“Personal donations dropped off dramatically,” Mikulski said. “People are out of work; we understand that they’re not going to think to donate to their local breast cancer charity right now.”
While corporate and personal donations are down, the pandemic also forced the nonprofit to cancel three of its annual events in recent months. These events typically raised awareness while also generating donations. One of these was the highly-attended fashion show titled “Survivors: Always in Style,” which is held in partnership with the Women of Hope Resource Center. The show highlights the strength of individuals that have overcome unique obstacles such as breast cancer, domestic violence, addiction and more.
Mikulski said the nonprofit anticipates having enough money to last about six months if support through donations does not return. Because of this, SJBCC put together three upcoming fundraisers that she hopes will generate support during these uncertain times.
Most notably is their ‘Save the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition’ t-shirt fundraiser, currently going on. The shirt, which says ‘I Stand with the Warriors,’ highlights the strength of those currently battling breast cancer. The shirts are $16 and can be picked up at the SJBCC location at 78 South White Horse Pike in Berlin Borough, or $20 if mailed.
The shirt can also be purchased on www.southjerseybcc.org or by visiting the nonprofit’s Facebook page for more information.
The SJBCC will also host a coin drop in Galloway on the first Saturday in October and an online bingo game on Oct. 22. More information on both events will be available on the nonprofit’s Facebook page in the coming weeks.
Mikulski said their hope is that these interim fundraising efforts help them make it until the fashion show currently scheduled to take place in April of next year.
“If we can get ourselves to the fashion show with all the things we’re doing, we should be able to maintain our current status,” Mikulski said. “Unfortunately, we’re unable to take new applications to assist new people because we’re in survivor mode at the moment. We can’t help anybody else if we’re not around, so that’s where we’re at right now.”
Since its inception, the SJBCC has awarded $217,000 to those across New Jersey battling breast cancer. For more information on how you can help support the South Jersey Breast Cancer Coalition’s mission, visit their website at www.southjerseybcc.org.