It was a December to remember for The HOPE Center
The local nonprofit recently hosted its Star Light, Star Bright event and Holiday Meal Giveaway to neighbors in need.
Toms River, NJ – It was a December to remember for The HOPE Center in Toms River as the local nonprofit served community members in need during the holiday season through its annual Star Light, Star Bright event and Christmas Meal Giveaway.
The Star Light, Star Bright event was held on December 14th and 89 families, inclusive of 233 children, received gifts thanks to the generosity of the local community. Families were also able to enter two separate raffles for a chance to win a new child/teen size bike and/or a new toddler size bike.
“Although times are economically difficult for all, The HOPE Center was overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends – individuals, businesses, faith-based supporters and community partners,” said Amy VanBezooijen of The HOPE Center. “We were able to provide a very Merry Christmas to all those who attended our Star Light, Star Bright event this year. Two of our families were also able to receive items directly off their wish lists through our partnership with Target of Toms River.”
The OceanFirst Bank WaveMakers from Accounting, Financial Operations and Adjustments and Financial Loan Operations donated toys to the event. “Thank you to OceanFirst Bank and OceanFirst Foundation for being amazing partners in hope each and every year,” VanBezooijen added.
The HOPE Center would also like to thank Carl’s Fencing, Decking & Home Improvements, First United Methodist Church of Toms River, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, The Presbyterian Church of Toms River, The Ocean County Board of Commissioners, Silver Ridge Park Westerly – the Neighborhood and Silver Ridge Park Clubhouse Westerly, Cedar Grove United Methodist Church, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, as well as the many individuals and families in our community that support us on an ongoing basis. “Each year, these organizations and businesses donate toys and other gifts to benefit our event and their compassion and Christmas spirit shines through in their generosity,” said VanBezooijen.
One family expressed their gratitude by saying, “I appreciate all that you did to put a smile on my girls’ faces. You made my heart happy, and I appreciate The HOPE Center family.”
The nonprofit also hosted a Christmas Meal Giveaway from December 19th through December 22nd. The holiday meal kits included a choice of protein in addition to canned sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, vegetables, instant mashed potatoes, canned fruit and a dessert.
“We served 186 families representing over 500 men, women and children during our Christmas Meal Giveaway,” said VanBezooijen. “A total of 186 meal bags and 150 gift cards were shared, which allowed each client to be able to purchase their family’s choice of protein.”
VanBezooijen recalls one recipient stood silently and cried while the volunteers gave him his meal bag and gift card. Another recipient said, “I would not be able to feed my family without The HOPE Center.”
The HOPE Center opened its doors in February 2008 to provide services to those individuals in need of assistance. Today, the HOPE Center’s staff and over 110 volunteers provide resources, advocacy and coordinating services with partner agencies. Volunteers assist clients in navigating the social service programs within the county to help resolve their issues of housing, utilities and other urgent needs.
The HOPE Center’s mission is to serve clients with dignity and compassion and strives to empower each person to achieve his or her greatest level of self-sufficiency. The organization provides food through its full-service, client-choice food pantry and community garden, shelter assistance, utility assistance and transportation to those in need. Special events and various drives are held throughout the year.
The HOPE Center is located at 253 Chestnut Street in Toms River. To learn more or for volunteer opportunities, visit https://houseofhopeocean.org.
About The HOPE Center The HOPE Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization initiated by the Clergy Association of Greater Toms River. Within a place of hope and faith, the mission of The HOPE Center is to serve families in crisis with dignity and compassion, providing for their basic human needs, and striving to empower each person to achieve his or her greatest level of self-sufficiency. Current hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9am to 3pm. To reach The HOPE Center, call 732‑341‑4447. After 4pm, for emergency services, please call 211.