Giving Back

'Granny and Papa Holiday Benefit Drive ' - One Of The Ways To Give Back To The Community In Sussex County This Holiday Season

Erin Braun, center, with children, Christina, age 21, and Alex, age 12. Credits: Photo courtesy of Erin Braun.


BYRAM TOWNSHIP, NJ – Erin Braun has had a mission in life to give back. She has been involved in many community efforts, from the PTA, to the Girl Scouts, to jumping in Lake Hopatcong each February for the “Leap in the Lake” to help special needs children. Her activities in helping continue year round, and in different ways, from raising money for AIDS Awareness, to Make-A-Wish Golf Outings, to founding the Clam Jam with Scotty, which benefits the Brain Injury Alliance of NJ (click here for the story in The Alternative Press). 

With the holiday season coming, Braun’s interest in perpetual philanthropy has its own niche, as Founder of Gifts from Granny and Papa Holiday Benefit.

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“After losing both my parents, the holidays have not been the same for me,” said Braun, about her father’s death in 1994, and her mother in 2000. “Creating this fundraiser is dear to my heart. Now, the holidays mean giving and sharing with others. Many are involved in the planning with this event, and we are asking for all to give what little or as much as you can, to make this an event that the local community can count on for many years to come.”

This year marks the second annual “Granny and Papa Holiday Benefit Drive.”

At last year’s event, the group collected more than 100 toys, $800 in food cards, food donations (for the First Presbyterian Church of Stanhope’s Food Pantry), and $500 for Faith Kitchen in Dover, N.J., an area soup kitchen through the Trinity Lutheran Church, which served 34,620 meals last year.

“We were able to supply local shelters with sheets, towels, slippers, PJs, and over 30 bags of personal hygiene items,” said Braun of last year’s drive.

This year, the collection of items includes items to be shipped to troops overseas at the 508 MP Etgers Camp in Afghanistan.

Other organizations and individuals, which will benefit from Gifts from Granny and Papa Holiday Drive are: Ginnie’s House, D.A.S.I., and families in need within Sussex, Warren, and Morris Counties. Braun has with Brian McNeilly, Stanhope Borough Administrator, and Cindy Church, Byram Township Deputy Clerk/Deputy Registrar, to help ensure gifts get to those in need at the municipal level.

"Our passion is to keep everything local, except for the items for the troops," Braun added.

The benefit itself will take place on Sunday, December 2, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., at the Stanhope American Legion, Route 183.

Items being collected per guest include either $20 per person or the following: $20 food store card, or unwrapped non-violent toy at a $20 value.

Hygiene items requested to be distributed to troops, and local families and shelters in need are: soap, toothpaste, shampoo, shave items, wipes, and more.

Gifts from Granny and Papa is still seeking sponsors with Wreath, Stocking and Red Velvet Bow Sponsorships, with names included on those items at the benefit. Wreath sponsors are for $200 and up donations, stocking sponsors $100 to $199 donations, and Red Velvet Bows $50 to $99 sponsorship donations. All checks should be made payable to “Gifts from Granny and Papa”

While at the benefit, guests can enjoy food, refreshments, “good time cheer,” visits with Santa Claus, and live musical entertainment from The Reno Band.

Some other local drop off locations where items can be left for the Gifts from Granny and Papa Holiday Benefit Drive are: Village Saloon in Sparta (712 Woodport Road), Byram Jewelers (13 US Highway 206), and Shakey Jakes Café in Stanhope (134 Route 183). Even after the benefit, donations will still be accepted at these locations. Currently Braun and her team are out busily collecting donations.

For complete information, contact Braun at: (201) 230-3354, or email:


Other collections happening around the area:

Sussex County Community College (SCCC) and Operation Chillout: A collection for New Jersey veterans, of backpacks filled with knit hats, socks, hooded sweatshirts, thermal and flannel shirts, waterproof gloves, and travel sized toiletries. Items can be dropped off at SCCC, and check and cash donations are accepted as well, with payment to SCCC SGA. For information about donations, call: (973) 300-2355. Click here for full information from Sussex County Community College. 

Project Self-Sufficiency: Along with Pass It Along, The New Jersey Herald, Clear Channel Radio, Intercar Mercedes Benz, and Sussex Honda, are seeking 10,000 toys for distribution to low-income families around Sussex County. Sussex County Freeholder Richard Vohden, and his wife, Faith are leading the effort for the Season of Hope Toy Drive. They are asking for individuals and groups to donate toys to the project. The wish list of items include, in addition to toys and books for small children, items for children of all ages, such as electronics, make-up, CD”s, clothing, pajamas, and more. The organization is also in need of gift wrapping supplies. Click here for full information, as well as here for information about an upcoming golf benefit to also help the toy drive. Toys will be accepted through December 12, and then any donations following, will be held for the next drive.

The United Way of Northern Jersey: The organization has several opportunities to give. In partnership with The New Jersey Herald, and, other service agencies, The United Way of Northern Jersey is running its annual “Gift of Warmth” campaign, and collecting new winter coats for all ages, and size ranges. Items are dropped off at their office at 120 Hampton House Road in Hampton. Click here for complete information. The group also runs its own “Holiday Toy Drive,” which takes place in Essex County. Click here for more information. “Gifts of the Season & Wrapped in Love” benefits Somerset County Residents. Click here for more information. 

Toys For Tots: A number of groups are collecting for Toys For Tots, which in the Sussex County is coordinated by the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation, with drop off at the Picatinny Arsenal Visitors Center, 1106 Parker Road in Dover. Click here for the Toys For Tots website. Locally, one of the groups, which hosts a special event is the Andover Township Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).  The second Annual Toys For Tots Drive will be held December 1 at the Hillside Barn on Lake Iliff Road. Admission per person is $15, and Dominick’s Italian Restaurant, and Sheridan’s Lodge cater the event, where beer, wine, soda, and water are also provided. The Snake Oil Willie Band, and other bands, will play. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the music starts around 7:00 p.m. The toys collected this year will be transported to South Jersey to local police departments to give to local residents devastated by Superstorm Sandy. Click here for the Andover Township Police Department’s Facebook Page or email 

Another group coordinating a Toys For Toys Drive is at The Palace Theater at 7 Ledgewood Avenue in Netcong, through The Growing Stage, Lt. Guy, and local legislators from Districts 24 and 25. Admission is free, and attendees are asked to bring an unwrapped toy with a minimal $10 value.  The event will be catered by The Black Forest Inn of Stanhope. The Growing Stage will perform scenes from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Other sponsors include: American Legion Musconetcong Post #278, Bell’s Mansion, Lamp Post Electric, and St. Michael’s Pre-School. Click here for complete information.


Continue to follow The Alternative Press for Sussex County news, as well as news and community information on The Alternative Press of Sussex County’s Facebook Page.

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