Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Sandra D. Levine

Sandra Levine went on to Rutgers University after graduating from Toms River High School South in 1978. She majored in communications, was elected to the honor society Phi Beta Kappa, and received her degree in 1982.

The Toms River Schools Hall of Fame Trustees are pleased to induct Sandra into the Hall of Fame because of her unique and creative career in the medium of television. She began her career with Adelphia Cable Communications. During her time with Adelphia she functioned as Anchor, On-Camera Reporter, Director, Editor, and Videographer.

In her work for New Jersey Network (PBS), Sandra performed as Feature Producer/Reporter, Host, News Reporter, Associate Producer, and Assignment Editor. Sandra has produced both a series of programs, as well as individual stand-alone programs. One could easily say that Sandra has run the gamut of challenges offered by television broadcasting.

Of the programs that Sandra produced for NJN, six of them were nominated for Emmy awards. Wild Again was nominated for a New York Regional Emmy, while five others were nominated for Mid-Atlantic Emmy awards: Homeless Pets, Breast Cancer: Race for the Cure, Scooter's Brain Surgery, The Cruelty Connection, and Beyond Jaws: Down Under with the Great White Shark. This last program was a half-hour show written, produced, and edited by Sandra; she videotaped part of the production off the coast of Australia. Sandra, encased in a steel cage, was lowered into an area alive with sharks, alone, and wearing scuba gear. She was among the first women ever to take that challenge. A news story for NJN, The Seeing Eye, won second place in the feature category awarded by the Philadelphia Press Association.

Homeless Tails is the title of the series for which Sandra is best known. It is now in its eleventh season and is typically broadcast twenty times weekly on NJN stations. It is shown at irregular times to gain the widest audience. Sandra is the host of the show; she writes and produces it. Homeless Tails is concerned with the welfare of pets, because it is the view of many experts in the field of animal husbandry that too many animals are being abused or neglected. Homeless Tails aims to tell the story of these animals and to offer guidance to owners about proper pet care. It seeks to get people who love animals to adopt them from pounds and shelters before they must be put to sleep.

The Homeless Tails series has led to Sandra being honored as its producer by The Humane Society of the United States. At the same Princeton affair, she was also honored for producing The Cruelty Connection, which examines the link between animal cruelty and human violence.

Sandra comes to her concern for animals quite naturally. Both her father and her brother are veterinarians. In addition, her sister Diana, an artist, created abody of work that has a large circle of interest in the American Southwest. She is also active in causes related to animals and uses her work and/or donates paintings to help animals. Sandra invites shelters and rescue groups from throughout New Jersey to appear on Homeless Tails to showcase animals available for adoption. A veterinarian spays or neuters an animal from the featured group free of charge. An especially important indicator of the value of Sandra's work is the fact that many shelter managers and other specialists have called in to say what has happened as a result of the broadcast or the programs in general. Their tributes and their enthusiasm are encouragingly high.

In 2003, Sandra produced and hosted a special marking Homeless Tails' ten-year anniversary on NJN entitled Homeless Tails: A Decade of Caring. She has been presented the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey's "Hero to Animals Award" for her work on behalf of animals.

Sandra lives at the Jersey Shore with her husband Michael Fairhurst, their daughter Caroline, two cats, and a former shelter dog named Sunny. Sandra's hobbies are sailing and scuba diving.

One message Sandra wishes to be spread can be seen in this quote printed in The Philadelphia Inquirer: "I get angry with the public that is angry with the shelters for killing animals. What do they want shelters to do? If you have 150 cages and 175 animals, there is only so much you can cram into a shelter."

We, in Toms River, are proud to celebrate and salute someone who cares. We are more than proud of someone who has graced the barren stage of television with such substance and knowledge.

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