Two weeks ago I had the privilege to host my 8th annual Christmas fundraiser party. In my first year it started as a simple living room cocktail party where a handful of my closest friends brought a toy to donate. In year eight the celebration, number of people and donations continues to grow. This continued experience gives back to me just as much as it does for the organization we contribute to. Every year my heart grows seeing all of the love and support from my family and friends. Their generosity is astounding and their excitement to help is ever-growing.
For those that know me personally, you know that the Christmas season is my favorite time of the year. My fiancé often jokes that I am the real life Buddy the Elf. What’s not to love? The dinners, Christmas cookies, gatherings with friends and family, decorations, and of course all the cheesy music and movies. I’ll even be the first to admit that I love a good gift. However; the true joy for me has ALWAYS been gift giving. Watching someone smile as they open a gift spreads so much happiness. As I grew older, I realized that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the Christmas experience that I was privileged enough to enjoy. This stuck with me.
For the past five years I have worked with a non-profit organization called Arms Around Morris County. They run a Christmas collection of giftcards to provide for single mother families that they support in various shelters. Many of these women live in poverty and/or have been abused. The giftcards are distributed to help these women provide a Christmas celebration for their families and themselves. The thought that even one child may not have something to open on Christmas will now have a gift under the tree makes me smile from ear to ear. It’s this heartwarming feeling that got me started on this initiative eight years ago. I wanted to help as many families as I could.
After hosting the party at my own house for six years, I simply didn’t have the capacity (or the manpower to cook and feed) for the growing party-goer population! Last year, I approached Millies Old World Meatballs and Pizza in Morristown to house the party. They were generous enough to open their doors to all of us. Cambridge Wines (my favorite wine shop in Morristown) also joined on to become a part of the event and do a tasting for everyone. It was such a huge success and there were such rave reviews of the food and wine from all of my friends that it led me to do the same exact set up this year.
Millies’ has become a Morristown staple over its past few years since their opening. The meatballs are famously delicious. It’s also the only Neapolitan style pizzeria you’ll find in the area. Oh, and save room for the Nutella pizza. I have friends that come on the sole promise of this dessert being part of the menu! Millies has become a big part of the success of my fundraiser. Everyone can count on an incredible meal and it has definitely drawn in some new guests to my list. I can’t thank them enough for the impeccable service and continued support these past two years.
Cambridge Wines also deserves a shout out for their role in the evening. The wine selections and knowledge that they bring are always top of the line. I’ve done quite a few write-ups on this local shop and I love to support their business.
Now it’s time to share the most exciting and IMPORTANT part of the post. Not only did this year’s party go off without a hitch. We more than doubled last year’s donations (Doubled!?)! We donated upwards of $2300 as a group to share with these families for the holidays. My heart flutters a little every time I think about how much this could help.
With every year that passes I get more excited for next year’s opportunity to continue to grow this initiative. I hope that this post will help to inspire you to give back this year too. There are some many fantastic organizations out there that are in need around the holidays and all year long. Get involved and find something that speaks to you.
For more information about Arms Around Morris County visit their website: http://armsaroundmorristown.org/
“Christmas is most truly Christmas when we celebrate it by giving the light of love to those who need it most.”
– Ruth Carter Stapleton