The Jersey Shore Children's Museum, a learning facility that has served the kids of South Jersey for the last 15 years, has been in limbo since its former home in the Shore Mall closed in December.

Co-founder Linda Szypula and a dedicated group of longtime museum patrons have worked diligently since its closing to find their beloved facility a new home. They have reached a tentative agreement on a new location in the Hamilton Mall area, but need to raise about $50,000 to retrofit the facility before they can move the museum in.

Now the Jersey Shore Children's Museum has partnered with several local businesses to raise funds and awareness in the hopes of re-opening one of the only facilities of its kind in the area.

"There's not a lot of healthy activities that you can take your children to," said Mari Dattolo, chair of the campaign to save the museum. "My kids grew up at the museum, and that's why I spearheaded this. It was to be able to offer families the same opportunities my kids had."

Several area businesses have agreed to offer special Museum Days during which a portion of sales will be donated to the museum. Five Below in Mays Landing will kick off the fundraiser Aug. 23-24, the Hamilton Mall Ruby Tuesday will follow Sept. 27-28, and Friendly's in Northfield will round out the list of current partners Oct. 9.

In addition to the Museum Days, there are ongoing fundraising campaigns through which local residents and businesses can directly donate to the cause.

For $50, individuals or families can have their names painted on pickets on a beach mural that will cover a segment of the facility's wall, and for $100, they can have an inscription put on planks of a raised boardwalk that will stretch around the museum.

The museum is no stranger to turning to the community for help, having financed its first space on Fire Road in Egg Harbor Township mostly through community donations. Allowing the community to impart a personal touch to the project, Dattolo hopes, will help make it a success.

"The idea is to get the community involved for minimal costs, so they can all participate in getting the place open," Dattolo said.

The museum also has a series of sponsorship packages through its Helping Hands campaign, which are detailed on its website, and for $1,000, corporate sponsors can have their name prominently displayed on the walls of the new museum's admission desk, have their information listed on the museum's website and be given a family membership plus four guest passes.

Szypula said it will take about four months from the point at which the museum reaches its goal to when it can open its doors. She has set a tentative timeframe of spring 2014 for the reopening, and while it is still a long way off, it is better to do things right than to rush them.

"We would like to have already been open, so it's frustrating, the fundraising part of it," Szypula said. "But the ultimate result is going to be amazing, so it's going to be worth the wait."

For more information about the Jersey Shore Children's Museum, visit jerseyshorechildrens

To become a sponsor or donor, call 609-926-2121 or 609-214-0993 or email


Contact Braden Campbell:


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