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Holiday Express NJ 2018 1
Nov 13, 2018

Celebrating 26 Years of Delivering Human Kindness

By Joanne Colella

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Left to right: Tom O’Brien, Tori Sickles, Sasha Sickles, honorees Leslie and Bob Sickles, Carol Stillwell, and Gina Petillio having fun at the Holiday Express Sunset Benefit Clambake.

In 2018, the tremendous non-profit volunteer organization Holiday Express is celebrating its 26th season of serving those who are desperately in need and often forgotten. To commemorate this remarkable achievement, they will hold a record-setting 100 private charity events throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to fulfill their mission of delivering the gift of human kindness to audiences at soup kitchens, homeless shelters, veterans’ homes, children’s hospitals, developmental centers, special needs schools, addiction recovery programs, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other facilities. Leading up to the 2018 season, which runs from Nov. 5 through Dec. 24, often with two or even three different events in a day, Holiday Express hosts several important public fundraisers to help support their efforts.

Sunset Benefit Clambake Raises $160,000

On Sunday, Sept. 16, after a week of relentless clouds and rain, Mother Nature provided Holiday Express with a picture-perfect day for the 11th annual Holiday Express Sunset Benefit Clambake, held on the beach at McLoone’s Pier House in Long Branch. The evening, which honored Bob and Leslie Sickles of Sickles Market, raised over $160,000. More than 400 guests were treated to an evening of ocean breezes, a lavish buffet, dancing, silent auction items, and opportunities help support the 26thseason of Holiday Express.

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Bingo committee members welcomed guests to the new Holiday Express warehouse.

Warehouse Bingo!
On Friday, Oct. 5, Holiday Express raised over $7,000 at its second ever bingo night, held this time at the organization’s new warehouse location at 151 Industrial Way East in Eatontown.  One hundred fifty guests came together at the sold-out event to win prizes, eat, and have fun, all while raising money for a wonderful cause.

Benefit Concerts at the Basie

Tickets are on sale now for the popular Holiday Express benefit concerts at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank. This year’s performances will be held on Dec. 17, presented by event sponsor Stillwell-Hansen Inc., and on Dec. 18, presented by Investors Bank. Tickets are $125, $75, $60, $50, and $25 and can be purchased at countbasietheatre.org.  All proceeds benefit Holiday Express and the shows are likely to sell out, so make your reservations soon. Joining the band this year will be special guest Dr. Elmo, performing his Christmas hit, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” The acclaimed philanthropic Holiday Express band, featuring 75 professional musicians and singers onstage, will blend its unique mixture of traditional, gospel, and rock ’n soul holiday music in a spectacular performance that is sure to touch you with the spirit of the season. Led by Tim McLoone, each 90-minute performance showcases the exuberant entertainment they’ve been providing to the less fortunate in the tristate area for the past 25 years.

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Holiday Express founder and band leader Tim McLoone

Many Hands Make Light Work

For those whom they visit, Holiday Express is an incredible traveling holiday party – often the only one their special guests may have all year – with a dedicated and tireless troupe of volunteers bringing live music, costumed characters, food, gifts, financial support, and warm, personal interaction to those with the greatest need. Holiday Express does all of this far from the limelight, in sometimes desperate circumstances, and for absolutely no pay. Over the course of the 2018 season, Holiday Express will visit 27,000 adults and children, each of whom will receive a specially packed canvas tote bag stocked with some of life’s essentials. Working with military precision, a heartwarming army of approximately 2,500 volunteers – including 150 professional musicians who donate their time and talent – will converge each day upon the Eatontown warehouse to prepare the supplies needed for each event or hit the road to travel throughout the region delivering help, hope, and happiness.

There are numerous ways that you can join in and lend support to Holiday Express. To volunteer or to donate, please visit holidayexpress.org or call 732-544-8010.

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The Grinch and Holiday Express board member Beth McLoone

Photos courtesy of Kate Beckett.