A fundraising car wash at Linden High School was a big success thanks to the hard work of the NJROTC cadets and great community support, raising $1,042 for the program. But the generosity of one cadet’s family doubled that amount.

By Gary Miller

The Linden High School NJROTC carwash raised far more money last week than the cadets and their leaders could have hoped – thanks to one generous family.

Maurice Faulk Sr., the father of Cadet Maurice Faulk Jr., pledged to match whatever the program raised with the fundraiser. The cadets took in $1,042 with their efforts at the Aug. 17 carwash at the high school thanks to hard work and a great community turnout. Mr. Faulk’s generous gift brought the total to $2,084, far exceeding the goal of $1,000 set by Commander Boyd Decker.

“They need support, because the kids there do a phenomenal job,” Faulk Sr. said. “They work hard, they study hard. And it’s really helping my son in making good decisions, and it’s a positive and I want to keep that going as much as possible, if I can. My wife and I are very supportive.”

Decker thanked Faulk Sr. and all the students’ parents for their continual support.

“A tremendous amount of the success of our program can be attributed to the support we receive from the parents of our cadets,” Decker said. “The extremely generous donation we received from Mr. Faulk is an indication of the amazing dedication our parents have to our cadets and the Navy JROTC program.”

Faulk said he and his wife, Kim, did not make the donation to get publicity. Rather, they see how much the program has helped Maurice Jr.

“They have just been phenomenal,” Faulk Sr. said of Commander Decker and Master Sgt. Nicholaus Gombocz. “They look at the qualities of each of the ROTC cadets and they just amplify them. So Maurice is good at problem-solving, working with groups, and they just took that ability to the next level.”

Maurice Jr. is a junior at LHS who plans to enlist in the Marines after high school. Faulk Sr. was in the Navy from 1987 to 1995, retiring as a corpsman 2nd class. He says he has a close relationship with the Marines.

“Every ship that I was on, they were on, and we took them everyplace,” he said.

Faulk Sr. says it was his son’s idea for he and his wife to make the matching donation.

“He came to me and said, ‘Would you mind …,’ because my thing is that if you work hard, your reward should be just as good,” Faulk Sr. said.

At the same time, though, the size of the donation may have caught him a little off guard.

“I didn’t think they were going to do that many cars, to be honest with you,” Faulk Sr. said. “When I got there, I’m thinking they might do 40 cars, 30 cars, something like that. But when he said they did over 100 cars, I was impressed.

“Shocked! But impressed,” he said with a laugh.

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The Linden High School Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps has about 450 students in the voluntary program. Money raised through fundraising goes toward programs such as their fall and spring Leadership Academies, field trips, an awards dinner, the drill team, and a formal Navy Ball.

All those events and their year-round in-school instruction go toward one goal:

“We just want to get them to the highest level they can get to and have them be better for joining the program,” said Decker, who retired from the military in 2015 after 20 years as a Navy pilot. “We want them to leave here better than they came in.”

“We call it a citizen development program – character education, leadership and service are kind of our marquee things. We’re here to help the kids, make them better. We’re a cadet-run program. The instructors are here to facilitate, but it’s really these kids that make everything happen.”

One misconception about the program is that it is only for students interested in joining the military after graduation. Decker said he works hard to dispel that myth.

“There is no military obligation,” he said. “We use a military framework to put them through the program. But all the instructors are school employees, and there’s no military affiliation, really. We’re not a recruiting program. We’re purely a citizen-development program designed to help kids succeed.”