Lower Township resident Skip Hoffman shook hands with Lower Cape May Regional High School graduate Lindsey Harner while wishing her a future of success and happiness.
Watching the exchange, West Cape May resident Loretta Saggiomo said to Harner, "You're now eligible to join our association. Don't forget us when you're rich and famous."
Harner, of Cape May, was one of the eight 2013 Lower Cape May Regional High School graduates to receive a $3,000 college scholarship from the Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc., of which Hoffman and Saggiomo are members. Hoffman is a founding member.
The Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc. celebrated its 20th year of awarding scholarships to Lower Cape May Regional High School graduates this year, having donated a total of $368,000 during its two decades.
Telling the story of how the Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc. came to be, Hoffman began, "A buddy of mine, George Rea, and I were up at the high school. We used to go watch the kids graduate, and we were fantasizing saying, 'What would you do if you won the millionaire lottery?' I said, 'Well, I'd probably create a scholarship program,' and he said, 'Well, that's what we ought to do."
"But I'm a working man, I don't make that kind of money to create a scholarship," Hoffman said. "So we got to thinking, what if we got a group of 10 people together to donate $100 every year, and then we could award a $1,000 scholarship to one student each year. $100 – I could come up with $100. So we did that. We still
didn't know what to call ourselves, so we said, 'Well, there's 10 of us and our nickname for Cape May High School was the Capers, why don't we call ourselves the Caper 10."
"Since then, I thought maybe we ought to change the name because there are more than 10 of us and not all of us went to Cape May High School," he said, "but it stuck."
The 10 founding members of the Caper 10 association were Edward Sherretta, Jack Angier, Terry Shields, Ralph Bakley, William Clark, Jr., John C. Hoffman Sr., Floyd E. Hughes and John W. Weeks, Hoffman and Rae. Skip Hoffman, Shields and Sherretta are still annual contributors.
The 2013 scholarship recipients were Karleigh Spicer, Alia Reeb, Ricardo Phillips, Samuel Meyer, Keith Marshall, Hannah Lamey, Ty Altieri and Harner. On June 17, the association held its annual awards dinner for the recipients at Lucky Bones Backwater Grille in Cape May, with a private party room and food donated by Lucky Bones owner and manager David Craig.
The Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc. targets students whose families show a need for the financial assistance, Saggiomo said.
The selection committee also looks for students who were not in the top 10 percent of their class, since they weren't as likely to have received an academic scholarship, but who show a desire and drive to attend a four-year college. The scholarship can't be cashed in until the students' second semester, as an incentive for them to stay in school.
This year, the Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc. had 140 alumni donating $100 to the cause, with additional donations coming in from local businesses. Over the years, the association has increased the value of the scholarship from $1,000 to $3,000 to compete with rising college tuition. The more people who donate each year, the more money the association can give.
Recipient Karleigh Spicer, of Cape May, who will attend Cabrini College this fall, majoring in special education, said the scholarship is a big help to her family.
"It's as much for my mom as it is for me because she's the one allowing me to go to an expensive college," Spicer said.
Debbie McGee, a resident of Cape May whose son, Jimmy, an rising senior at Rowan University, and daughter Kalyn, a rising sophomore at West Chester University, both have received $3,000 scholarships from the association, said the money was a great help for her family.
"Both Jimmy and Kalyn lost their father, and I'm the sole provider in our household, so every little bit is a tremendous help," she said.
McGee is now a contributing member of the Caper 10 Alumni Association, Inc.
Contact Elisa Lala:
How to help
New members are always welcome. Write a check for "$100 to Caper 10" and mail it to 311 N. Broadway, West Cape May, NJ 08204.