The Beachcomber Holiday Guide

Time, Energy, Funds: No Shortage of Ways to Give Through Local Nonprofits

Southern Ocean County — Many may remember the old story of Paul Revere from history class. Well, how about a brief Paul Revere impersonation with a twist? The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming!

OK, catch your breath. It will be all right. Just remember, you don’t really have to spend too much on gifts for everybody. In fact, one of the best ways to fulfill some Christmas wish lists is to give to local nonprofits that help others during the holidays and throughout the year.

Did you know the Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce has a charitable arm called the Southern Ocean Chamber Association and an entire Internet space dedicated to its nonprofit partners? It’s true. Check out visitlbiregion.com/thrive-in-105 to find out the extent of the association’s initiative.

Among the many youth, wellness, community and cultural organizations that need funding for their missions, – including a vast array of volunteer first-responder services that always need more hands on deck as well as funding for equipment – perhaps the more important gift you can give is your time by becoming a volunteer to help sustain their reach.

“Our community is based on giving; our members represent the fabric of what we are,” the chamber website states. “We encourage you as a resident, visitor or business to get involved to help advance the outstanding missions these groups represent. If you are looking to donate time, energy or funds and want to meet more like-minded neighbors, please choose an area of interest and reach out to them directly.”

One such organization that always needs help is Family Promise of Southern Ocean County, an affiliate of the national 501(c)(3) organization that works alongside volunteers in religious congregations and community organizations to assist homeless families within Southern Ocean County achieve and sustain independence.

“Our needs are always growing because the need in the community is always growing,” said Elizabeth Golla during last year’s Cardboard Box City fundraiser event. “We clearly need more funding, but there are so many other ways people can help.”

This year, Family Promise will need help setting up its new Day Center, located at 1001 South Main St. in West Creek, for Christmas. Whether by hanging ornaments on the Christmas trees, setting up decorations or spending some time to make cookies with the families, the donation of time and volunteering really can go a long way in helping homeless families have a warm, comfortable holiday season.

Of course, for those willing to donate a toy or clothing for a child in the Family Promise program, that’s a viable option as well, in addition to gift cards – ShopRite, Walmart, Wawa, Kohl’s, etc. – in increments of $25 or $50 that it can distribute to local families in need. Gift cards can be dropped off to Family Promise headquarters or mailed to P.O. Box 83, West Creek, N.J. 08092.

Also, for those who may want to give a larger gift for a family associated with Family Promise, furniture, bedding, kitchen appliances and other household items are graciously accepted. However, such gifts must be made on an as-needed basis, since Family Promise does not have a storage facility.

For more information about how you can help in any of the aforementioned way, call 609-994-3317, email lgollafpsoc@gmail.com, or visit familypromisesoc.org.

Not surprisingly, the number of ways anybody can help others through local nonprofits is as long as Santa’s “nice” list, and those who might want to contribute to the LBI Rotary’s mission throughout the year can do so for its 35th annual Holiday Auction, scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6, at Sea Oaks Country Club in Little Egg Harbor. Tickets can be purchased for a $100 donation, or you may consider donating an item for the auction. Email rotarylbi@gmail.com to find out more.

Another fantastic organization that can always use help is the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean. And if you want to assist HFOSO while working off some pounds from Thanksgiving dinner, try out its Thanks 4 Giving 5K “Runraiser” and 1-Mile Run/Walk on Saturday, Nov. 30.

The annual 5K helps raise funds to support the Hunger Foundation’s mission to support local food pantries and to help educate the public of the basic food needs of individuals and families in Southern Ocean County. Since 1995, the foundation has raised and donated more than a million dollars to assist food pantries.

As it has in previous years, the race begins and ends at Veterans Memorial Park on Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven, and the flat course takes participants through a large portion of Beach Haven as they cruise along Atlantic and Beach avenues. Both races are slated for a 9 a.m. start.

The online, pre-race registration fee for the 5K is $32 per participant 13 and older, while children 12 and younger are $22. Online registration ends Nov. 25. Race-day registration, which begins at 7:30 a.m., will be available for $35 per participant 13 and older, and $25 for children 12 and younger. Participants registered by Nov. 15 are guaranteed a race T-shirt. Pre-race registration fees for the mile run/walk are $30 for those 13 and older, and $20 for younger children.

For more information about the Thanks 4 Giving 5K and to register, visit hfoso.org/events. Sponsorships also are available for the race.

Fortunately, if you’re a local runner or walker, you don’t have to wait until the weekend to get in a nice run or walk and help several worthy causes. Instead, you can get in some exercise before your Thanksgiving festivities with the Gobble Wobble 5K, Half-Mile Drumstick Dash and One-Mile Run, hosted by the Southern Ocean Ladies Running Club on Thursday, Nov. 28.

Held at the Stafford Township municipal complex, the Gobble Wobble 5K is set for 8:30 a.m. The Drumstick Dash, during which many children enjoy chasing down the runner dressed up like a big turkey, kicks off at 8 a.m. and the One-Mile Run takes off at 8:15 a.m. The registration fee for the big race is $35 per participant, while the cost per participant for the other two races is $10.

The annual event benefits the Stafford Township Police DARE program and CASA of Ocean County, which advocates for at-risk, abused and neglected children placed within foster families. Additionally, Gobble Wobble participants are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy or gift for the Toy Run Foundation’s annual drive and the annual CASA Christmas party.

Speaking of the Toy Run Foundation, since 2000 it has assisted thousands of families throughout Southern Ocean County, and by the time this year’s effort culminates in mid-December the foundation will have provided gifts to hundreds of children of all ages.

Each year, the foundation creates a department store-style setup at St. Mary’s Parish Center in Manahawkin and allows those registered to come in and select what they want, free of charge. Typically, each child on the foundation’s list may receive three to five gifts.

Gifts for teenagers are especially needed, and any store gift cards up to $15 each are always a hot item. Appropriate gifts for older girls include makeup kits, blow dryers or hair straighteners, stationery, throw blankets, purses, winter gloves and scarves, and bath-and-beauty sets. For older boys, skateboards, sports equipment, wallets, sports team apparel, men’s electric razors, and deodorant and cologne sets are recommended.

Gifts will be accepted until Friday, Dec. 13. Items can be dropped off to St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 747 West Bay Ave., Barnegat, through the morning of Dec. 13, or after 4 p.m. to St. Mary’s Parish Center, 100 Bishop Way, Manahawkin.

Anybody who wants to be on the recipient list may call the St. Mary’s rectory after Thanksgiving at 609-698-5531. You also can find the foundation on Facebook, or email toyrun2002@gmail.com with questions.

For more than 30 years, PBA Local 297 and the Stafford Township Recreation Department have been coordinating efforts to make sure local youngsters have gifts for Christmas as well as warm coats for the upcoming winter months through the annual Holiday Toy Drive and Stafford Cares For Kids Winter Coat Drive.

The toy and coat drives began on Nov. 4 and donations will be accepted through Friday, Dec. 20. New, unwrapped gifts and new coats in children’s and adult sizes can be dropped off at any time to the police department at the Stafford Township Municipal Complex, 260 East Bay Ave., Manahawkin, or Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Bay Avenue Community Center, 775 East Bay Ave., or the Pine Street Recreation Center, 25 Pine St. Additionally, collection boxes will be dispersed at businesses in town.

For those who are not big on shopping for gifts, monetary donations can be made as well. Checks must be made payable to Stafford Township PBA 297 Toy Drive and dropped off to either the police department, community center or recreation center.

For more information, call Jennifer McBrien at 609-597-1000, extension 8573, or Debbie Budesa at 609-597-1000, extension 8583. Email inquires also can be made to jmcbrien@staffordnj.gov or dbudesa@staffordnj.gov.

— David Biggy

Reposted from The Sandpaper