December Nonprofit Spotlight
As everyone can use some extra holiday cheer this year, we have selected Holiday Express for December’s Nonprofit Spotlight!
Who They Are:
It is the mission of Holiday Express to deliver music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those with the greatest need for the gift of human kindness during the holiday season and throughout the year. At Holiday Express, we believe no one should be alone during the holidays. Established in 1993 by Monmouth County musician and restauranteur Tim McLoone, Holiday Express is a non-sectarian organization located in Eatontown, New Jersey. Holiday Express serves the mentally and physically challenged, veterans, the isolated, individuals in addiction and recovery programs, the poor and the homeless, and children with serious illnesses. During the 2019 season, we visited 100 organizations throughout New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York. We plan to do the same in 2020, by pivoting our programming from live performances to virtual events during the current Covid-19 pandemic, while providing all of the fun and festive event components our inclusive programming is known for.
Holiday Express strives to deliver the gift of human kindness for those who are desperately in need and often forgotten. Long ago, we recognized that the holiday season can be a time of distress and sadness for those struggling with homelessness and food insecurity, financial concerns, medical issues, and loneliness. These are the people Holiday Express serves. In many cases, the Holiday Express party is the only opportunity to experience the joy of the holiday season, and the customized duffle bag filled with essential personal items provided by Holiday Express is the only holiday gift the individual will receive. We are known for our interactive, private musical dance parties led by professional musicians and supported by compassionate volunteers who are together committed to making the event the highlight of the holiday season. All events are held between early November and Christmas Eve, and each event is brought directly on-site to the people we serve at no cost to the organization. Each guest also receives a Holiday Express duffle bag filled with essential items including a blanket, socks, hat, gloves, toiletries and more, lovingly packed for each of the 27,000 guests by volunteers in our warehouse. The gifts are customized specifically for the clientele at the event. Many events also include a meal provided by local restaurants.
Due to the extraordinary circumstances the world is facing in 2020, Holiday Express realized that we would not be able to hold live, on-site holiday events. Yet we are committed to serve 27,000 individuals in need in creative, innovative ways to capture the spirit of Holiday Express during these unprecedented times. Our 28th season includes a pre-recorded “virtual show” delivered to the clients in person, via zoom, or in a variety of ways that safely serve the population of the program. Gift bags are being delivered, and many sites are receiving a delicious meal. Despite the pandemic, we knew that it was important to not let down the 27,000 individuals in need who were counting on us to bring the joy of the holiday season to them.
What kind of support does Holiday Express need the most right now?
Holiday Express is collecting new items for out gift bags, which include adult crew socks, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Items may be shipped directly to us at our warehouse. We always welcome financial donations, which help support the delivery of our programs to people in need, including the purchase of most of the items included in the duffle bags delivered to 27,000 individuals each year.
What is one thing you wish people knew about Holiday Express that they may not?
The incredible value of the Holiday Express volunteer. Last year, volunteers contributed 22,000 volunteer hours, valued at $518,000. We have only four employees, and we have over 2,000 committed volunteers. This includes our musicians, “elf” volunteers who help at events, and those who pack customized duffle bags in our warehouse.
What is the most unique donation Holiday Express has received?
For many years, a local company (Komar) has donated thousands and thousands of fleece blankets to Holiday Express. We are able to include a warm blanket in each of the 27,000 duffle bag as a part of our signature gift to the guests at our holiday events.
For more information, feel free to visit their website: holidayexpress.org.