Candlelight Vigil For International Overdose Awareness Day Planned

SEWELL, N.J. – The Fourth Annual Candlelight Vigil in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day will be held at James J. Atkinson Park on August 27th, beginning at dusk.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a worldwide event that began in Melbourne, Australia in 2001 and is held on August 31st each year. The event’s goal is to raise awareness of opioid overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related deaths as well as acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends and remember those who have died or had permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.  

“Already this year we have lost 78 to drug related overdoses in Gloucester County,” Freeholder Director Robert M. Damminger said in a press release. “In 2018 the total drug related deaths in our county was 141, up from 125 in 2017. We don’t want anyone else to die from substance abuse disorders.” 

Freeholder Jim Jefferson, who serves as Liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services and is the Chair of the Addictions Task Force said that the individuals who are affected by substance abuse come from all walks of life.  

“Addiction touches almost every family in some way, shape or form and by lifting the stigma of shame we hope to touch people and help them,” Jefferson, said. “Gloucester County has resources to help those struggling, but together we can accomplish more to help those struggling and those who have lost family and friends realize they are never alone.”

The vigil is sponsored by The Gloucester County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the Gloucester County Addictions Task Force, a group that is comprised of community members that have been adversely impacted by addictions, or are working professionals in the field.  

The vigil will be held rain or shine.  James Atkinson Park is located at 138 Bethel Mill Rd. Sewell, NJ 08080. Seating is limited. Bringing your own chair or blanket is recommended. There will be resource tables that will open at 5 p.m.

If you have a family member or friend that you would like to commemorate in this ceremony, please send their name and photograph to Robert Bamford at or 856-384-6929.

For more information about the Division of Addiction Services please visit