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This story first appeared in the Sentinel on December 24, 1981.

You’ve probably seen Joey around town. He’s everywhere.  An energetic, dark eyed waif who’s always looking for work.

In the summer he sells newspapers wherever he can. Sometimes he negotiates City Hall steps with a bundle of papers that must weigh more than he does. He haunts the supermarkets eager to carry your bag to the car for loose change. With Joey the work ethic is very important. He’s reluctant to accept money unless he’s done something to earn it.

You get the idea that Joey has learned very early that you have to be continuously doing something, pushing hard to earn a buck.

Little Joey, 9 years old and going on 40 is the only man of the house. There is no father. There’s a mother who works very hard to keep things together but it isn’t enough for Joey and his sister. So out into the streets and into the hearts of many wanders a slight youngster, a combination of Oliver Twist and Huckleberry Finn, looking for the key to survival.

Like any street kid, Joey is no angel. He’s polite to most but when agitated acquaintances report that his vocabulary can defeather a chicken.

Joey turned up at City Hall several weeks ago looking for work. He was about as “down and out” as we’d seen him for a long time. He was wearing tennis shoes that should have been tossed out two years ago.

The fronts and sides were open and there was no real protection from the damp and cold. His jacket was threadbare and he had no gloves. As with every energetic, normal child he was hungry.

Unfortunately Joey isn’t always certain where his next meal is coming from. He has a good lunch at school. But sometimes food runs low at home and he relies on friends for treats at McDonald’s. Then there are the times when his friends just aren’t around. Anyway, in the spirit of the holidays, this story has a relatively happy ending. Friends at City Hall have bought Joey a new pair of shoes, coat, gloves and other gifts. The Colony Club is delivering a food basket for Christmas and the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, learning of Joey’s situation, also helped to buy clothing.

Several family service groups are aware of Joey and attempting to help.

Joey is a bright, eager lad with the innate abilities to be a success. With a little assistance, he may operate his own supermarket some day and help out a spirited kid just like himself who wants to carry groceries to earn a hamburger and French Fries. It could go the other way, too. And that would be a shame. Because the raw materials for maturity and development are there, just like they are for every disadvantaged youngster in this great and sometimes brutal society of ours.

If you spot a Joey in your neighborhood maybe you could do something to help him or her along. What a great gift that would be in this wondrous holiday season.

Joey’s story has a happy ending. He worked his way through college and is now a talented film maker.

But Joey needed help. And this holiday season numerous Ocean City residents still require assistance to put their lives back together following the storm. Fortunately they are in the minority and the OCNJCARE and the City are working to assist them. You can help by sending a check to OCNJCARE, Box 807, Ocean City, N.J. 08226 or dropping a donation off at Ocean City Home Bank, 10th and Asbury Ave.

The Good News is that Ocean City’s downtown is now operating with all but a few of its 100 stores. PLEASE PATRONIZE OUR DOWNTOWN during this holiday season. You’ll receive personal service and good values.

The Boardwalk received very little damage, and all of the merchants who normally operate during the holiday season are open and will stay open through First Night, January 1.

FIRST NIGHT: DO NOT DELAY. Buy your First Night Admission buttons and treat yourself to the Best Entertainment Value at the Jersey Shore or any Shore for that matter. Eight hours of professional shows starting at 4 p.m. and concluding at midnight with a fireworks display. Also included are rides at Gillian’s Wonderland Pier from 5 to 9 p.m. and miniature golf at Gillian’s Adventure Golf from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. All of this for JUST $15 per person.

First Night offers entertainment for all ages. There will be magic shows, musicals by Michael Hartman including The Three Bears, Broadway by Request, comedy, a big band dance, Mummers String Band, Trout Fishing In America, the Grease Band, Japanese Drummers, Gospel Singers, Doo Wop, Jungle John and much more. New this year: all first Night Button holders are invited to the High School’s Astronomy Observatory to check out the stars.

You can obtain First Night buttons and review the entire program at the following locations: The Wonderland Store at the Stainton Complex 8th and Asbury Ave., and Chamber of Commerce Offices, 9th   Street across from TD Bank.  You can also order buttons and check out the program at www.firstnightocnj.com. Call (609) 399-1412 or (609) 525-9300 for information, after hours (609) 364-4010.

The Ocean City Restaurant Assn. will offer its “Taste of the Shore Dinner” at the High School Cafeteria, 6th and Atlantic Ave. The complete menu is printed on line at firstnightocnj.com. Price is $20 for adults and $8 for children with hourly seating from 4 to 8 p.m.  You can make reservations on the First Night website at www.eatinocnj.com.                                                                                                                                   

FIRST DAY AT THE BEACH is set for Jan. 1 with entertainment starting 11 a.m. by the Music Pier. There will be a 5K Run starting at 1 p.m. and an Ocean Plunge at 2 p.m. Downtown will celebrate New Year’s Day with a shopping  extravaganza from 11a.m. to 4 p.m. Some stores will open earlier. For information call (609) 525-9300.

FREE CHRISTMAS BUFFET: Peaches Lukens is offering this free buffet for the 23rd year at the Methodist Church 8th and Central Ave. from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Day, December 25. No reservations required. Event is free to all. This delicious homemade meal is for those who need company, a good meal and holiday cheer. Take outs, meal delivery and transportation to and from dinner can be provided. Call (609) 398-8781 for information.                                                              

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