When I was little my Mom started a Christmas tradition that was truly wonderful. Once I graduated from college and started living on my own I carried on the tradition by myself. Now it’s 7 years later and this annual event has become an anticipated occasion among family and friends who know me.
Now that you are all wondering what this holiday ritual is…I’ll share (If you didn’t already infer from the title). Every year I host a Christmas fundraiser and all the proceeds go to a local charity. When I was growing up my family would “adopt” another family through an organization called Project Connect in Monmouth County, New Jersey. We had the very rewarding experience of hand delivering these gifts to our families each year. When I decided to continue this tradition on my own I continued working with the same foundation for the first two years. All of my friends would bring a gift to donate to our annual chosen family. But, once I settled into Morris County I wanted to give back to my new community. I discovered the local not-for-profit organization, Arms Around Morris County. During Christmas-time they do gift-card collections to provide to single mothers in need within the Morristown area. The recipients use these donations to buy their families gifts for the holidays. For the past five years my event has benefited this organization.
Each year my annual Christmas fundraiser has continued to grow. It started with a few friends coming over for a wine and cheese night and it has worked its way up to a full blown event at a local restaurant with wine tastings and a 4 course menu. I should have also prefaced that this fundraiser has always been paired with a TON of food and wine. It wouldn’t be my signature event without some focus around food!
This year was no exception. With my guest list exponentially increasing each year, as more people want to get involved, I realized that having it at my house was no longer an option. I wanted to keep it local and benefit more community businesses so I worked with a local PR firm, Diaz Schloss. I asked if Millies Old World Meatballs and Pizza would be interested in hosting my event. They were gracious enough to accept my proposal and give us ample space during one of their busy Thursday nights! I also enlisted the help of my favorite wine shop, Cambridge Wines (also a Morristown establishment) to do a wine tasting for all of the guests.
The ask for my guests was to pay a small fee for a very generous 4 course family style (and delicious I might add) meal as well as a donation for the charity. The turnout was tremendous and the event went off without a hitch. We were able to raise $800 that night with promises of more to come later.
In the days after the event I received an overwhelming response from everyone who attended for the great food and a fantastic time. I also encountered many who want to get involved. My Crossfit gym (13 Stars Crossfit) went above and beyond to donate to the cause (They were only minorly insulted that I didn’t extend the invites out to everyone there. Sorry guys –next year I promise!). I have been receiving mail for a few days now from others who wanted to be a part of it. We handed in over $1100 in donations and I could not be more enthusiastic.
The Christmas season has always been about giving for me. I think I mentioned in an earlier post this month that whether it’s providing to those in need or picking the perfect gift for a loved one I’ve always found the most joy in giving.
For those of you who are local and want to get involved, Arms Around Morris County does year round initiatives. You can take a look at their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ArmsAroundMorrisCounty or their website http://armsaroundmorristown.org/
I encourage you all to start your own annual soiree. It’s an amazing excuse to get together with all your best friends for a great cause. Whether it’s 3 of you or a 100 giving to a local charity, every little bit helps! Oh and by the way it’s a very satisfying feeling to know you were a part of something good.
I wish you all the happiest of holidays!
…all for the love of the dish