Miss NJ in Margate

Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum hands out books to children at the Margate Library in this 2013 file photo.

Vernon Ogrodnek

The 10th anniversary Miss Avalon Pageant will be held 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at Avalon Elementary School.

The winner will advance to the annual Miss New Jersey Pageant in Ocean City in June, with the possibility of representing the Garden State in the 2017 Miss America Pageant.

Along with the crowning of the new Miss Avalon and appearances by former winners, this year’s event will celebrate the life of Cara McCollum, a former Miss Island Resort crowned in Avalon who was killed in an automobile accident in February 2016.

The pageant will pay tribute to a platform embraced by McCollum during her tenure by encouraging participation in the Cara McCollum Birthday Book Project of Southern New Jersey.

McCollum founded the project when she was a teenager in her hometown of Forrest City, Arkansas, with the goal of providing underprivileged children with a new book on their birthday, according to the borough website.

“If I can place a book in the hands of kids on their birthdays, I can show them what a gift reading can be,” she was quoted as saying.

While attending Princeton University, McCollum won the title of Miss New Jersey 2013 after winning the title of Miss Island Resort in Avalon in 2012. She competed for the title of Miss America 2014 on a platform of promoting youth literacy.

After graduation McCollum became a lead news anchor with SNJ Today in Millville. She was seen at many community events including Avalon’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony, where she read a holiday story to children at the annual Festive Friday event.

Organizers of the Miss Avalon Pageant are collecting new books for the Birthday Book Project for distribution to area elementary school students between the ages of 5 and 11. Attendees are asked to bring a book to donate on Saturday.

The Miss Avalon Pageant is a scholarship pageant that has provided thousands of dollars to contestants through its decade-long history, according to the borough website.

For more information on the Miss Avalon Pageant see missnewjersey.org, or find the Miss Avalon Pageant on Facebook.

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