The organization is starting small, but its name - We Are American - is grand. And its ambitions are grander.
Raising $5,000 through a "Summer Classic Cornhole Tournament" to benefit wounded veterans is the immediate goal. But eventually, the group hopes to link civic-minded people with worthy projects, and one another, nationwide.
"We'd love to see it catch on," says Ed Secrest, one of the founding parents of We Are American, along with his wife, Michele, and their friends Pete and Lisa McKeon.
About 16 people, mostly family members and friends, are active in the three-month-old organization. Their mix of idealism, hard work, and can-do spirit is impressive and, well, quintessentially American.
"When we were younger, it wasn't that big of an effort to say hey to your neighbor," says Michele, 39. "People don't know their neighbors any more."
By coming together to help others, "we help ourselves," she adds. "As a group, people can donate a little and make a lot of difference."
After two years of informal discussions and two earlier, more modest fund-raisers for a local scholarship fund and veterans, We Are American had what Michele calls its "first official meeting" on March 16 at the Secrests' Berlin Borough home. The nonpartisan group is applying for tax-exempt status as a private nonprofit (http://weramerican.org/).
Meanwhile, the tournament is set for Saturday at the Golden Nugget Tavern in Berlin. Proceeds will benefit the Florida-based Wounded Warrior Project, which assists injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
For students of American slang startled by the notion of a cornhole "tournament," be advised we're talking here about an old-fashioned game resembling beanbag toss or horseshoes. Having caught on in recent years, cornhole now has its own gear, vendors, and a national association. Who knew?
"It's something everybody - young, old - can enjoy together," Ed says. "Cornhole is a light, safe game."
The Secrests have been married for 15 years. He owns an excavating firm, she's a graphic artist, and both wear their patriotism proudly.
"We consider ourselves very fortunate," says Ed, 41. "We're not wealthy, but we're healthy. We figured, why not get together and raise money to help other people out, and have a good time doing it?"
The McKeons, of Medford, have been fast friends with the Secrests since fellow Masons Ed and Pete met as members of the M.B. Taylor Lodge No. 141 in Hammonton.
Charity "doesn't have to be a Mother Teresa situation - all hard work," says Pete, a 36-year-old environmental consultant. "It can be fun."
Says Lisa, 29 and a civil engineer, "We're not a bunch of dull people."
Another We Are American stalwart is Ed's father, Howard, a 68-year-old retired manager from a chemical company. He's happy to help "because this group of people makes me so proud."
Companies also have stepped up. The Golden Nugget "basically opened their doors to us," Ed says. A Philly-based cover band, Red Team Go!, is playing for free, and eight sets of wooden cornhole targets, known as boards, were made by apprentices at the New Jersey Carpenters Training Center in Hammonton, which donated them.
Likewise, the Becca Sports company, an Illinois-based manufacturer of all manner of cornhole game supplies, donated the bags for the tournament.
We Are American's red, white, and blue values transcend politics and religion, the organizers say.
"We're not antigovernment," Michele says. "We just don't think government should have to pay for everything."
Says Ed, "We don't want to come off as right wing or left wing. Everybody has their opinions; everybody has their thing."
They're thrilled with the response so far. "We haven't even advertised yet!" Michele says.
They plan to take on illiteracy and childhood hunger next; We Are American will enable people who might otherwise believe there's no way for them to do anything about such issues to make a contribution.
"Neighbor helping neighbor," Howard says.