Because they lack the state and federal funding provided to their public counterparts, private schools such as Egg Harbor Township's Atlantic Christian School need all the funding help they can get.

On Sept. 21, Christian ministry group Soldiers for Faith will sponsor the Atlantic Christian School Music Fest, featuring former American Idol contestant and Christian artist Jason Castro, with all proceeds benefitting the school.

Corie Taylor, Atlantic Christian's director of advancement, has worked closely with Soldiers for Faith founder Kelly McAndrew in putting together the concert, which she said will meet a need that has long existed in the area.

"A lot of our friends and families have been wanting to have something like this in our area," Taylor said.

McAndrew, who lives in Austin but grew up in Atlantic County, is familiar with Atlantic Christian through his nieces, who attend. He reached out to Principal Karen Newman earlier this year with the offer of hosting a 3-on-3 basketball tourney, which ultimately turned into the music festival.

In addition to Castro, other artists slated to perform are Chelsea Musick, Bonner and the Glenn Taylor Band. Doors to the event open at 12:30 p.m., and the first band will take the stage at 2 p.m.

The event will feature a family fun zone with carnival games, a rock wall, ministry tables and food from Chik Fil-A, Rita's Water Ice and Jilly's French Fry Factory. McAndrew and Joe Rowell will speak at the event.

Taylor said she expects the event to bring in between 750 and 1,000 guests - which not only will bring in a lot of money, but raise the school's stature in the community as well.

"(It's something) that will not only help us raise money, but let everybody know who Atlantic Christian School is, and that way, people realize how great our school is," Taylor said.

Kelly, who runs a company that helps build semiconductor factories around the world, said his being blessed with success spurred him to create Soldiers for Faith.

In addition to sponsoring events such as the concert, Soldiers for Faith sends speakers to churches, schools, businesses and penitentiaries across the country and hosts weekly Bible studies over the phone.

While Soldiers for Faith has sponsored several events in the past, this is their first foray into music. McAndrew said Taylor, who put together a music festival at Shore Fellowship Church about three years ago, has been invaluable in getting things going.

"They're certainly an equitable partner," McAndrew said. "Understanding they have such limited resources, Corie has been off the charts. I don't know when the girl sleeps."

Because they started planning just six months before the event date, the organizers initally had trouble booking performers, Taylor said. But now, word has spread among Christian artists, and the school has a list of several interested in performing at a second event next spring.

Every day, more community members are calling her office to purchase tickets and offer their help as volunteers, Taylor said. With just a few days to go, the event is looking like it will be a boon for the school.

"(We want) everybody to know how Atlantic Christian School is and see that we're a different kind of school," Taylor said. "We're out here to make sure our kids love to come to school and their families love to send them there."

Contact Braden Campbell:

609-272-7415

If you go

What: Atlantic Christian School Music Fest

When: 12:30-9 p.m. Sept. 21

Where: Atlantic Christian School, 391 Zion Road, Egg Harbor Township

How much: $15 adults, $12 and younger, free for 5 and younger. $10 groups of 10 or more.

More info: Contact Corie at 609-653-1199, ext. 314, or ctaylor@acseht.org.