From: Asbury Park Press — Age wasn’t a factor in the random acts of kindness across the Jersey Shore after superstorm Sandy.
Thousands of volunteers, from young kids tagging along with their parents to retired adults helping their neighbors, have poured across the Jersey Shore to help the storm’s victims recover.
Countless more might have come this summer, except for one thing: They’d be breaking the law.
A state statute now under review by state officials prohibits anyone under age 18 from coming within 30 feet of construction work. While there is an exception for helping nonprofit organizations with affordable housing, no such exception currently exists for disaster relief.
A potential fix for next summer could be forthcoming in a bill introduced last month by Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini, R-Monmouth, which would permit volunteers between the ages of 14 to 17 to engage in housing construction activities if the work is supervised by an approved nonprofit organization.
Angelini said thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed during Sandy and that nonprofit organizations want to include youth groups in rehabilitating and rebuilding damaged homes and buildings.
However, bill A4221 hasn’t gone through committee review yet and lawmakers are on summer recess.
Angelini said she hopes the proposed legislation can be enacted “in time for next summer.”
The issue came to light, Angelini said, at a meeting of the Monmouth County Long Term Recovery Group, which addresses Sandy-related social services. Angelini said a Federal Emergency Management Agency representative reported that Louisiana officials had discovered similar concerns that resulted from minors participating in the construction of housing after Hurricane Katrina.