By MADDY VITALE
The local community continues to show support for the owners of GG’s Diamond Cleaners, after a Jan. 3 winter storm dumped 14 inches of snow on Ocean City and caused part of the roof to the longtime business to collapse.
No one was injured in the incident and the building was unoccupied at the time.
However, James and Hee Hong, of Upper Township, the owners of GG’s, have not been able to reopen their business at Sixth Street and Asbury Avenue. City officials are still determining if the building could be repaired or if it will have to be knocked down.
“The Ocean City construction official determined that the building is unsafe to occupy pending the submission of an engineer’s structural report by the owner,” Ocean City spokesman Doug Bergen said earlier this week.
Donations came pouring in when a GoFundMe page was set up. Organizations, residents and business owners have also offered money and assistance.
Jody Levchuk, co-owner of the Boardwalk and downtown Jilly’s shops, has created a way for families to join in, have fun and donate to a worthy cause to help the Hong family get through a difficult time.
Levchuk, who is also an Ocean City councilman, created three nights of fun at Jilly’s Arcade, 1168 Boardwalk. Tournament Tuesdays began Jan. 11 with a Skee-Ball Tournament.
Each tournament gives 100 percent of the proceeds to GG’s. The next event is an Air Hockey Tournament this Tuesday, Jan. 18 from 5 to 6 p.m., and then on Jan. 25 people can test their skills with a Pin Ball Tournament.
“They are my dry cleaners and I have been going to them forever,” Levchuk said of the Hongs in an interview Sunday. “They are a great family, and I was really upset for them. I would like to see them get back in business over there and hopefully the community will continue to help them do this.”
Levchuk has hosted other fundraisers through Jilly’s events, because, he noted, that “is just what we are about.”
“This isn’t a new story,” Levchuk said. “This is what Ocean City does as a community with and for each other. There is OCNJ CARE and so many other organizations that help. People care. It is just what we are about.”
On Jan. 5, Catherine Panico, of Panico Dental in Ocean City, whose husband, Dr. William Panico, works with the Hongs’ son, Dr. Andrew Hong, set up a GoFundMe page to help the family.
Catherine Panico wrote on the GoFundMe page, “Hi, my name is Catherine Panico and would like to help our friends and local family owned business in their recovery effort from the heavy snow fall causing the roof on GGs Diamond Cleaners to partially collapse. They won’t be able to service customers for some time and need our support to help them while they are out of work. Please consider donating. Thank you.”
The goal of $10,000 was reached on the GoFundMe page within 24 hours of Panico putting it up and has since been exceeded.
Like Panico and Levchuk, so many others have come to the assistance of the Hongs to try to help them through a tough time.
Mayor Jay Gillian and members of City Council have given sizable donations to the Hong family.
The Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce and a host of residents and businesses also donated to the family. OCNJ CARE, a nonprofit organization that helps those in the community who need assistance, also provided support for the Hongs.
“We’ve been working with him from day one and will continue to do everything we can to assist,” Gillian said of the efforts to determine if the building could reopen. “I want to thank everybody who has contributed to the fundraising effort on behalf of GG’s. In Ocean City, we take care of our own.”
For more information about the Jilly’s Tournaments and to register, visit ShopJillys.com Event Registration Page at https://www.shopjillys.com/jillys/shop/products/event_registration?page=1