14 Creative Ways to Show Love to New Jersey this Valentine’s Weekend

We’re thankful to live in New Jersey. 

We’ve been thinking about the year-long state of “pivoting” that organizations have endured — groups all over the world— but especially in our home state of NJ. 

Despite the challenges, these service agencies have found innovative ways to continue clothing, sheltering, feeding and serving people who are experiencing dire needs.

This year, with Valentine’s Day in mind, we’ve compiled fun and purposeful ways to show NJ some love! 

Here are 14 creative ways to show love to New Jersey this Valentine’s Weekend.

  1. Discover and visit a local treasure you’ve never experienced before. Get ideas by scouring the “Things To Do” page on the state’s travel and tourism site: https://www.visitnj.org/things-to-do.
  2. Have you ever heard of attentional saturation? When we see items over and over again, we actually stop seeing them. Refresh your town memory with an “around the town scavenger hunt” which can be easily found by searching Pinterest.
  3. Score tickets to attend the virtual R.E.D Gala, Celebrating Racial Equity and Diversity. The virtual gala supports the Urban League of Essex County.
  4. Celebrate Jewish culture when you help with a mitzvah project through Jewish Family Service of MetroWest.
  5. Gather your officemates and conduct a “drive,” this month and gather goods to be invested back into the city through a local agency. To support Children’s Aid and Family Services, you can team up and host a Baby Basics supply drive, collecting diapers, wipes and formulas for local families.
  6. Support justice and healing by becoming an advocate to those served by the Family Service League, or volunteer with Family Connections when you become a homework helper at a school-based program.
  7. Take a “bubble walk” around your neighborhood or downtown on a cold day, spreading the love with your magical, freezing bubbles. 
  8. Register to bid in the auction at the virtual Seize the Dream 2021 Gala
  9. Contact a local florist and order a delivery of flowers to be sent to a local retirement facility.
  10. Visit your local library’s town history section and uncover 5 new-to-you facts about your town’s background.
  11. Mentor a child through Youth Consultation Service or find safe a service opportunity at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark.
  12. Ask kids to gather coins, while parents model with a haul of their own, and donate to the Holiday Fund, who loves New Jersey as much as you do. 
  13. Help Newark Day Center spread the word about their open enrollment for 3- and 4-year-old children. It’s easy — just share their Facebook page on your profile!
  14. Instead of planning a luncheon for the office, gather safely and “attend” a Paint and Sip event to support the Nutley Family Service Bureau. FSB will deliver the art supplies to your door to create your very own masterpiece, based on “Love” by Robert Indiana.

Will you keep in touch? Leave a comment and let us know how you decided to celebrate NJ this Valentine’s Day. We can’t wait to hear your stories and see your pictures.


You can show love to the Holiday Fund any time with a donation of any size; the 10 reputable agencies we support serve individuals all year long. Contribute safely and easily at https://holidayfund.org/give/.

Zoe’s Place Helps Change the Trajectory for Teen Moms

Children’s Aid and Family Services of New Jersey (CAFSNJ) shared some inspiring words from Mo’Nique last month in a video posted to their YouTube account. She was addressing young mothers who are receiving a lifeline through Zoe’s Place, a CAFSNJ effort.

“Anything you think you wanna do, you can. Take this moment to rethink your process and your steps. And when you leave, put them to work. Everybody deserves a second chance. So take your second chance and make it work for you.

Mo’Nique

Zoe’s Place is run by CAFSNJ and helps pregnant and parenting teens with a lifeline to the resources, housing, and advocacy they need to build a brighter future. They provide safe, 24-hour supervised housing to young mothers and pregnant young women in northern New Jersey.

Pregnant and parenting teens are, statistically, the most vulnerable population of youth in the country according to Zoe’s Place. And, while some young moms have the support of family and friends, others have no one in their support circle.

That’s why Zoe’s Place exists. “Zoe’s Place is the lifeline that so many young women need during this life-changing experience,” says CAFSNJ

And hopefully, as Mo’Nique says, this lifeline helps young moms pay it forward. 

“I would only hope that when y’all get up on your own feet, and you see the next sister down, because of what’s happened to you at Zoe’s Place, you make it your business to become your own personal Zoe, and make sure you put a hand out for another sister,”

Mo’nique

Last year, Zoe’s Place supported 14 teen moms and their families. We are so proud to support the work of CAFS serving this vulnerable population.

5 Ways to Incorporate Generosity Into Your New Year’s Resolutions

2021 has arrived, and if you’re like many Americans, you’ve got some resolutions written down for the year. 

Many resolutions about things to try, do, achieve, better, etc, and there are ways to work in a core strategy of generosity into many of them. 

Below are five tips for incorporating generosity into 2021 resolutions!

Organize your belongings
Take stock of your things and keep only what you need. Consider donating your surplus to Thriftworks, a social enterprise run by the Urban League that employs individuals looking to gain skills for retail and customer service jobs.

Spend more time with your family
One great way to spend time with each other is to read (Check out our 10 Books About Generosity PDF). Or try these 10 activities that help teach your kids about generosity and kindness (Check out our 10 Ways to Raise Kids Who Give PDF).

Launch a new enterprise
If you’ve been sitting on a business idea, now might be the time to act! Consider donating a portion of your proceeds to charity on certain holidays that are meaningful to you. Here are a few coming up:

  • Jan 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service — #MLKDay
  • Feb 4: World Cancer Day — #WorldCancerDay
  • Feb 20: World Day of Social Justice — #SocialJusticeDay
  • Feb 29: Rare Disease Day — #RareDiseaseDay
  • Mar 8: International Women’s Day — #IWD21

Eat healthier
Healthy meals start with healthy ingredients. As you shop for your own meal prep, why not help someone else with their meals too? The Catholic Charities needs volunteers to help seniors do grocery shopping for homebound seniors with no primary caregivers: http://www.ccannj.com/food_shopping.php

Foster new community
Whether you’re new in town or have been in Jersey since you were born, there’s always room for more relationships and connections. Meet like-minded people of all ages when you volunteer with one of our agencies, who are always in need of someone with an extra hand and a big heart —

Have more ideas? Let us know in the comments below!

When A Family Is Strengthened, A Community Is Strengthened

Chris needed a specific type of program to help him become the kind of father he wanted to be — one who could overcome his addictions and hangups, and learn to care well for himself and the needs of his kids. 

Chris’s life was transformed — and his community was strengthened — through the Family Connections’ Strong Fathers program. 

Before he came to Family Connections, Chris had been unemployed for 2 years and without a driver’s license. He had problems with family, anger, and substance abuse, and he was letting all of that get in the way of properly caring for his children. 

He says he didn’t have motivation to get things done.

In the Strong Fathers program, he was taught about goal-setting, and once he began getting things done, felt satisfaction in his work. He expressed appreciation for his Family Connections counselor, saying:

“He’s my inspiration. He helped me with my anger, so now I catch myself before it happens. I let things slide off my back…most of all, he taught me patience with my children.”

Today, Chris is celebrating more than one year of sobriety. He has his driver’s license, a job and car, and joint custody of his children. Looking back on his time in the Strong Fathers program, Chris says:

“I had to do it for my children. They’re my motivation and my strength. I’ve graduated from Strong Fathers but I still go in to help the other men. I get support and direction and structure. Every time I go there, I learn something.

People say I’m a role model now. But I don’t see myself as a role model. I’m just a man, trying to take care of his kids.”

It’s inspiring to witness Chris’s healing overflow into his kids’ lives! 

This is the power of equipping and educating. Your generosity makes stories like Chris’s possible. 

Every donation to the Holiday Fund is funneled into programs that build a better future for our New Jersey neighbors. Imagine what would be possible if more fathers had access to programs like Strong Fathers from Family Connections. 

Click here now to make a difference in the lives of families like Chris’s. 

How One Agency Made A Difference For Married Holocaust Survivors

Mrs. F was in her eighties, frail with chronic health problems. She lived with and cared for her husband, who had health issues of his own.

But this married couple was unique — they were Holocaust survivors. 

They had challenges: Mr. F suffered from severe depression. They only spoke Russian. Their ability to access help was limited. 

The vulnerable couple didn’t have family to lean on, as most of their loved ones were lost to the Holocaust, and their daugher was living with her own mental health struggles.

They turned to JFS MetroWest, one of the Holiday Fund partner agencies, and everything changed.

To reduce the burden of care on Mrs. F, the couple began attending a Russian-speaking adult day care unit. 

When Mrs. F needed hearing aids and was prepared to max out her credit cards to acquire them, JFS provided financial assistance. In addition, JFS provides ongoing case management, counseling and support. 

Although the individuals are one-of-a-kind, this story is not unique!  

When you donate to The Holiday Fund, individuals and families gain access to life-changing resources.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You make a donation
  2. Every donation to the Holiday Fund is funneled to ten social service agencies in northern NJ
  3. Our New Jersey neighbors lives are changed

When you contribute to the Holiday Fund, you invest in lives that are often invisible and forgotten.

Give generously today

Newark Day Center helps father while mother and daughter heal

Naomi, Ed and their two daughters are receiving services from Newark Day Center’s parent aid program to improve their household management and the functions of the home.

A parent aide assisted Naomi with becoming self-sufficient and managing the household independently. Newark Day Center also assisted the family with food and supplies for the children, with assessing community resources and ensured that the parents were doing well with the daily parenting functions.

Naomi and her oldest daughter, Nicole, were hit by a car while walking across the street. Both mom and daughter had serious injuries. Nicole had a fractured ankle and was able to heal at home.

Unfortunately, Naomi broke both legs and tested positive for COVID-19 while she was at the hospital. She was admitted into the hospital and spent time there and in a rehabilitation center for about two to four weeks. During this time, Ed was required to complete all household duties while completing his classes.

The family doesn’t have much family support in the area. Considering Ed had a small child and a child with a broken ankle, it was hard to travel and complete daily tasks/errands. The parent aide assisted Ed with the children and the daily household functions. She ensured Nicole was completing her remote learning while Ed was continuing his studies. She assisted with the children in order for their father to be able to complete the laundry and food shopping. With the assistance of the aide in the home, Ed was able to maintain the cleanliness of the home and complete all chores.  Currently, the family is doing well and healthy.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at twitter.com/HolidayFundNJ, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/holidayfundnj.

To make a donation, visit holidayfund.org.

What happens after I give?

Do you ever wonder who’s being helped by your donation to a nonprofit, or how it’s impacting lives? 

Donations to the Holiday Fund are distributed to 10 social service agencies during their season of highest need

You’ve probably heard of most of the organizations since their work is touching lives in every corner of the Greater Newark Area, like Children’s Aid and Family Services, Family Service League, Catholic Charities and more

Who is directly impacted by donations to the Holiday Fund?

✅ Displaced families without shelter or basic resources

✅ Victims fleeing unsafe conditions 

✅ Elders in need of specialized care

✅ Children who need critical, life-giving services

✅ Teens who need help achieving their brightest futures

✅ Men, women and children needing mental health services

If you’ve been wanting to find out more about each of our charities, check out this free report. It’s a wonderful guide to our agencies and who they serve.

We hope you’ll check out the work of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund this season and consider supporting all of these local agencies with one easy donation.

Mother hopes to be united with children after struggling with substance abuse

Angela became a client at Family Connections in 2017 after being referred to the agency by New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency to address substance abuse and mental health concerns. Angela has four children who were all removed from her care due to her unstable mental health and ongoing substance abuse issues.

Angela became a part of three programs within Family Connections: Strong Mothers, Home Safe and ReConnections. The primary goals of Angela’s treatment within the three programs were to achieve abstinence, stabilize her mood and alleviate mental health symptoms, secure adequate housing and reunite with her children.

Angela was engaged and cooperative in all programs, attending Strong Mothers groups three times a week, Home Safe groups once per week and visiting her children weekly with ReConnections. She was clearly determined to be a better version of herself and get her children back.

Angela began to make incredible progress. She achieved total abstinence, engaged and cooperated with psychiatric treatment, learned skills to manage mood symptoms and secured adequate housing through the Home Safe program. All of her counselors were very proud.

Angela became hopeful and optimistic about a future for herself and her children for the first time. Through her hard work and determination, after two-and-one-half years of engaging in treatment services, Angela has been reunified with her children. She continues to receive support and therapeutic services from Family Connections, while gaining the tools she needs to eventually be totally self-sufficient.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at twitter.com/HolidayFundNJ, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/holidayfundnj.

To make a donation, visit holidayfund.org.

Reflecting On The True Power Of Giving

As the weather turns cold, I can’t help but feel grateful. 

I think about what a hard year it has been for our city, and how the stories of our community have been overshadowed by other major events. 

This year, more than ever, will be a crucial time to lend a hand to those who have fallen on hard times. 

I am reminded of a conversation I had with John Westervelt, CEO of the Catholic Charities (one of our partner organizations), about the people they reach out to everyday:

“They just needed that little helping hand. I tell everybody the same thing. $10, $15 gave that helping hand to someone that just needed a little push to start again.” 

I couldn’t agree more. 

The people of New Jersey are strong. 

With a little kindness from others, we can do so much. 

  • Every year, we see more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds build a good life for themselves
  • We hear of parents and caregivers going above and beyond for their children’s sake
     
  • We witness the transformation of the homeless, the mentally ill and the vulnerable into strong contributing members of society

Through your generosity, you give small but powerful pushes of inspiration. 

From the Greater Newark Holiday Fund team to you, thanks for all the “pushes” you’ve given to our communities. 

It truly has made all the difference.
To donate now, visit holidayfund.org/give. We are grateful for the “pushes,” especially in 2020.

Baby Basics program helps mother care for young son

Still just a baby, Joseph has already faced more challenges than most people do in a lifetime. His mother, Alexis, escaped an abusive relationship during her pregnancy with little more than the clothes on her back. Although Alexis was able to move in with a family member and find a full-time job, she still struggles financially. She now receives free diapers and other baby essentials from Baby Basics, a program of Children’s Aid and Family Services.

Joseph was born five weeks prematurely after Alexis went through an extremely difficult pregnancy. The baby spent one month in the NICU at the hospital and was diagnosed with Bartter Syndrome, a rare disease that affects kidney function.
“Joseph was taking six different prescriptions when he came home and needed to see a kidney specialist several times a month,” Alexis said. “And whenever he ran a fever, I had to take him to the emergency room right away.”

As a result of his condition, Joseph needs frequent diaper changes, which causes even more strain on Alexis’s limited finances.

“Even though I work full time, I was spending almost all of my money on diapers,” Alexis said. “The Baby Basics program has been a big help. I can save some money now and I’m very grateful.”

Alexis works hard to ensure her baby has a good childhood, and she lights up when she talks about him. “He loves playing with animals and toy cars. Despite everything he’s gone through, Joseph is the happiest baby. When he smiles, everyone feels better,” she said.

Children’s Aid and Family Services is able to provide free diapers and other baby essentials to low-income families in northern New Jersey because of the generosity of the Greater Newark Holiday Fund.

Visit the Greater Newark Holiday Fund on Twitter at twitter.com/HolidayFundNJ, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GreaterNewarkHolidayFund or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/holidayfundnj.

To make a donation, visit holidayfund.org.

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