East Brunswick’s Lightbridge Academy raises money for local business

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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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The Zeppole Guys lost their food truck in an undetermined explosion earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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During the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Lightbridge Academy's new East Brunswick location on Oct. 24, funds were raised to help The Zeppole Guys, whose food truck exploded earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Lightbridge Academy
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Lightbridge Academy, East BrunswickVASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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During the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Lightbridge Academy's new East Brunswick location on Oct. 24, funds were raised to help The Zeppole Guys, whose food truck exploded earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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The Zeppole Guys lost their food truck in an undetermined explosion earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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During the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Lightbridge Academy's new East Brunswick location on Oct. 24, funds were raised to help The Zeppole Guys, whose food truck exploded earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Lightbridge Academy
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Lightbridge Academy, East BrunswickVASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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During the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for Lightbridge Academy's new East Brunswick location on Oct. 24, funds were raised to help The Zeppole Guys, whose food truck exploded earlier this year.VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF

EAST BRUNSWICK–Complete with food, a petting zoo and games, Lightbridge Academy’s newest East Brunswick location held its grand opening event to help raise money for The Zeppole Guys.

Established in 1997, Lightbridge Academy provides early education and child care to children ages 6 weeks through Kindergarten, as well as special programming for children up to 10 years old during school holidays, breaks and summer camp, according to information provided by the academy.

“Lightbridge Academy was built on a foundation of family values. It is a place where owners, parents, children, staff, as well as the community, come together as a family to create a trusted ‘Circle of Care.’ There really is no better way to show that you are a company that truly cares than to demonstrate it through your actions,” Lightbridge Academy East Brunswick Director Regina Silverii said.

Co-owner Joseph Squillante said The Zeppole Guys is a family-owned business known for Italian pastries, zeppole, that are made from a 100-year-old family recipe. The business also sells sausage and pepper sandwiches, fried Oreos, calzones and Italian-style hotdogs.

On Sept. 27, Squillante said in the middle of the night the food truck exploded and the family lost all of their equipment and supplies. The cause of the explosion is inconclusive, and they are still working to determine the exact cause.

Squillante said they are very grateful that no one was physically harmed from the explosion.

“We had one food truck that we lost during the explosion. We are trying to raise enough money to purchase a new one, and Lightbridge Academy’s partnership and grant along with support from our GoFundMe page have been extremely helpful to jumpstart our efforts,” Squillante said during the open house on Oct. 24.

Silverii said when the academy heard that a well-loved member of the community had experienced a tragic fire devastating their home and business, it seemed right for them to step up and use the heightened awareness surrounding the academy’s grand opening to do good and engage other community members to join.

The company franchised in 2011 and currently has more than 100 child care centers either open, under construction or in development throughout Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the academy.

Lightbridge Academy initially opened on Aug. 17 in East Brunswick; however, its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony were postponed until Oct. 24 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and held in the academy’s parking lot at 168 Milltown Road, East Brunswick.

More than 50 attendees participated in different activities that included games, decorating pumpkins at a pumpkin patch, petting farm animals at a petting zoo, getting family photos taken and taking a tour of the new facility.

The academy donated a $2,000 grant to The Zeppole Guys to help the business stay afloat and raised an additional $976 at the event for the local business, according to the academy, according to the academy.

Silverii said the academy raised an additional $976 for The Zeppole Guys at its grand opening event.

“We are overwhelmed with joy by the support and financial assistance we received from Lightbridge Academy. We were totally shocked when we got the call that Lightbridge Academy was stepping up to help out,” Squillante said. “After reading up on Lightbridge’s co-founder, Guy Falzarano, it’s clear that Lightbridge is committed to helping the local community due to previous efforts and contributions they have made, and my family is grateful that Guy has been generous enough to help us out after this devastating explosion.”

“Lightbridge and our community of friends, customers and family members have really come together to show their support towards The Zeppole Guys. We knew people loved our zeppole but did not realize how much they love us,” Squillante said.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the academy had several safety protocols in place so attendees could feel safe attending.

“We put a lot of thought into how to create a safe yet fun grand opening event. First, we had everything outside so we could take full advantage of the beautiful fall weather,” Silverii said. “All games and crafts were all individualized so there was no communal sharing of items and hand sanitizer was provided at all stations. Each area was a socially distanced line and we did our best to keep families together.”

Silverii said all adults were required to wear a mask and masks were recommended for children over age 2. To encourage this, the academy gave out branded masks for the first 50 children in attendance.

“Anyone entering the building on a private tour was screened and also had their temperature checked,” Silverii said. “We stayed in the hallways and looked into the classrooms through vision panels. Hopefully, families saw the level of detail we put into keeping families safe at the event and always at Lightbridge Academy.”

For more information about Lightbridge Academy, visit www.LightbridgeAcademy.com or call 732-980-1900, ext. 199.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.