Union County, NJ – The season of giving is upon us and Union County is pitching in to help ensure that local families have a happy holiday, by coordinating donations to be distributed to various social service agencies and individual households in need. So far, an estimated 3,000 households received assistance and the total may top 3,200.
“This is a countywide effort that began many years ago, and it just keeps getting bigger,” said Freeholder Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan. “Understandably enough we lost some sponsors due to the tough economy, but many others stepped in to fill the breach. When you see community spirit this strong, you know that we will all pull through together.”
In addition to donating money and gifts, Union County employees contribute many hours of volunteer time in collecting, organizing and distributing donations.
“Originally the county’s holiday drives focused on toys, to help children in need enjoy a cheerful season,” said Sullivan. “But especially since the 2008 economic crisis we have grown to include food, clothing and other necessities.”
Community agencies have come to rely on the County’s holiday drives in order to meet the needs of those seeking help. The effort is coordinated by the Department of Human Services, spearheaded by longtime employee Mary Krech on a volunteer basis. Along with donations from Union County employees, the contributions from other individuals, businesses, Cub Scout groups, and school groups also play an important part.
“Private citizens and organizations often reach out to the County for ways to help or volunteer,” said Frank Guzzo, Department Director of Human Services. “We have the resources to collect their donations or direct them to specific organizations they would like to help.”
The County made giving a contest at its Tree/Menorah Lighting and Charity Drive at the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Mountainside on December 5. Thirteen hundred residents flocked to the Nature Craft Show to vote on the prettiest tree, decorated with toys, winter hats, supermarket gift cards and other items donated from various county departments and staff.
The Runnels Specialized Hospital tree, themed “Toy Land,” was voted the winner. The trees were donated to ten Union County families along with lights and ornaments, and the toys, clothing and other donations were distributed to various service agencies.
The Sheriff’s Officer’s Tree of Hope is another long-running Union County holiday project that collects and distributes toys and other donations. Since 1997, Tree of Hope has helped hundreds of children affected by illness, domestic violence, neglect and abuse, to have a brighter holiday.
This year, the National Tree Company of Cranford donated trees for Tree of Hope.
“The Courthouse community supplies Tree of Hope with a lot of contributions,” said Marianne Hopko, project coordinator, “But we also accept quite a bit in private donations all year long.”
For more information on ways to give in Union County visit https://ucnj.org/government/Human-Services.
For more information on any Union County press release, please contact Sebastian D’Elia, Communications Director for the County of Union, or a designee listed at the top of this press release. Please join the County of Union online at www.ucnj.org, on Facebook at www.ucnj.org/facebook, and on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/countyofunionnj