Halloween costumes often end up stored away in a closet or discarded once the holiday is over. But one nonprofit organization, Jersey Cares, has found a good use for them by donating them to area shelters and nonprofits so all kids have the chance to dress up.
During a special Happy Hour fundraiser being held at the Wicked Wolf Tavern in Hoboken on Oct. 4 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. adults can contribute to the Halloween costume drive in addition to supporting the work of Jersey Cares, which is a statewide civic engagement nonprofit.
Wear and share
What began as an effort to help out a shelter that had lost some of its funding more than three years ago has blossomed into an annual effort that has gone from 300 costumes to more than 1,000 costumes for children from area shelters and nonprofits.
“They were scrounging to find costumes for kids,” said Heather O’Loughlin, Jersey Cares director of corporate service, about the shelter they helped out. She said it turned out to be “a really popular drive.”
“Who doesn’t love to give kids Halloween costumes?” noted O’Loughlin.
“Who doesn’t love to give kids Halloween costumes?” – Heather O’Loughlin
Whether it is the ever-popular Angry Bird, an Iron Man suit, or a Princess outfit anyone can give a gently-used kids costume or purchase a new one for donation.
“Once kids wear their [costumes] they don’t want to wear them again,” said O’Loughlin. “It is a win-win for everyone.”
Local service opportunities
Jersey Cares, which was founded in 1993, coordinates volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, corporate employees, and community groups. The Newark-based nonprofit has over 1,500 nonprofit partners across the state and approximately 22,000 volunteers in their network. Of those 4,000 are from Hudson County according to O’Loughlin. At the local level, Jersey Cares partners with Hoboken groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, The Jubilee Center, and the Hoboken Shelter.
“We really kind of try and accommodate everyone’s interests because…you have to be passionate about something to donate your time,” said O’Loughlin.
She said the organization runs up to 150 projects per month that can be found on their web site. People can peruse volunteer events on a calendar, browse organizations, or search by zip code.
Jersey Cares also partners with other Hudson County groups such as the Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery, and St. Lucy’s Homeless Program.
“Volunteer programs all vary based on impact area,” said O’Loughlin. She said volunteers can commit to a one-time event or volunteer on an on-going basis. Activities can range from cleaning up a park to playing bingo with seniors to tutoring a child.
“All you have to do is sign up on the web site and show up,” added O’Loughlin.
Jersey Cares resurrected their Happy Hour fundraisers this year as a way to raise money for general operating expenses and increase the number of volunteers in their network. The group kicked off the Happy Hour at Wicked Wolf in June. According to O’Loughlin, the organization picked the Wicked Wolf for the happy hours because of its location on the waterfront and proximity to mass transit, given that people come in from different parts of the state.
“It was great,” noted O’Loughlin. She said that 30 to 40 people attended the happy hour, which is very casual and offers an opportunity to network. O’Loughlin anticipates the happy hours will get bigger and include raffles in the future.
“If everyone that came out had a great time,” said O’Loughlin about her expectations for the event. “And if they…went on to our web site and signed up for a project that would make me ecstatic.”
O’Loughlin said that while no specific fundraising goal has been set for the upcoming happy hour, the organization hopes to exceed the $1,000 raised in June. She noted that the biggest fundraiser for the organization, which takes place in May, is Jersey Cares Day, in which volunteers collect pledges in support of a day-long volunteer effort.
Jersey Cares will also host an annual gala on Nov. 1 at the Chart House in Weehawken, which will showcase bakeries from all over the state and recognize honorees.
For the Happy Hour at Wicked Wolf, adults 21 years or older can purchase non-refundable tickets in advance for $20 up until 12 p.m. on Oct. 4 by visiting: www.jerseycares.org. Tickets at the door are $25 if available. Tickets include admission and complimentary Tito's Handmade Vodka while supplies last.
For more information, call: (973) 424-1091.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.