Organizers of this year’s Greater Newark Holiday Fund campaign have high hopes.
For 2017, the organization, which helps families and individuals in Essex, Union, Passaic, Hudson, Morris and Bergen counties by providing funds to nine charities that serve and help them every day, has set its sights on breaking last year’s total of more than $400,000. That money will have a profound impact by funding mental health services, providing food, medical services, counseling, camps for children — and much more.
“This is our 80th year, and I’m looking forward to a very strong year,” said John Nietzel, senior vice president of Investors Bank and the Fund’s president. “We did $400,000 last year, and we’re looking to do even better this year. With all the generosity out there and with all individuals that support this great cause and the organizations, we can do it.”
The Greater Newark Holiday Fund began in 1937 as a gift drive for children of Newark’s neighborhoods. Today, through the collaborative efforts of area business leaders and individuals, and working hand in hand with social service agencies that provide direct assistance to their townspeople, the fund works to raise money and awareness of the good works its recipients do.
This year’s honorary chairman, Marc Berson, chairman of the Fidelco Group said he was honored to be asked to work with this year’s campaign, and he anticipates that this year’s efforts will net big rewards. Berson has a long history of working with the community. He has been involved with the NJ Performing Arts Center since its inception, has been involved with the Beth Israel Medical Center for more than 16 years, is vice chairman of RWJ Barnabas Health, and has been chair of the Opportunity Project. Quite simply, he knows the importance of working within the community to effect change.
“We’re making a big push with online giving, and using the media to reach out,” he said. “I think the organization is learning how to do that effectively, and that’s been important.”
Organizations receiving assistance through the Greater Newark Holiday Fund include: Catholic Charities, Children’s Aid & Family Services, Family Service Bureau of Newark, FAMILYConnections, Newark Day Center, Nutley Family Service Bureau, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest New Jersey, Youth Consultation Service (YCS) and Family Service League.
“The nine organizations are really doing God’s work as far as I’m concerned,” Nietzel said. “We visit them to see what they’re doing, and it’s an incredible affect that it has on you. And then you realize that there are so many people in need, and that we have to do a better job of helping the people in these organizations.”
The Fund raises money every year from November through February, with donations coming from larger businesses as well as individual donations. In fact, Nietzel said about 50 percent of the amount raised comes through smaller, individual donations.
“We have people giving $1,000, the largest last year was $5,000, and have people who give $5, and they’re just as important,” Nietzel said.
Berson said that with the use of social media, partnerships within the business community, and other efforts, he sees no reason that this season won’t be a successful one.
“With a partner like The Star-Ledger, the Fund’s marketing efforts, how we are using the internet, and with all the committed folks that have been doing this for a while, I would expect this would be another good year,” he said.
— John Saccenti