Giving Back

The Nightmare Before Christmas: 4-H Uses Funds from Haunted House to Provide for Middlesex County's Needy Families

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Kids from all over the county help other kids from all over the county through 4-H. Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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Girl gifts!  Represent! Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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For creative kids Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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Boy gifts!  Represent! Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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Minion?  Elf?  You decide. Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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Rachel and the gifts celebrate 4-H holiday giving. Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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Rachel from South Brunswick, Kylee from Jamesburg, and Nick from the North Pole support 4-H. Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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All smiles for Christmas and the generosity of spirit shown by the 4-H. Credits: TAP into East Brunswick
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EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - There were lots of Elsas. An amazing number of Annas. A few Chewbaccas. A herd of Yodas. But there was only one Liam from One Direction. Who would take home Liam?  

The Middlesex County 4-H held its annual Project Gift event this weekend at its facility on Fern Road. On Saturday, 4-H members organized the gifts by age-level, maximizing eye appeal for shopping. Parents from several organizations supported by the 4-H, Rutgers Univseristy and Middlesex County would come to shop on Sunday, using red, green and white tickets to buy gifts for their children.  

The best part for the parents?  The gifts would then be wrapped by 4-H members and tagged with a "From Mom/Dad/Grandma" or from Santa.  Parents and guardians actually got to give gifts to their children

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The best part for everyone else? The gift were purchased using funds raised by the famous East Brunswick Haunted House at the 4-H Center which was held on Fridays and Saturdays in October.  The 4-H members scared up a lot of cash to buy presents for their peers who would not necessarily have them.  It was a case of cooperation between zombies and elves for the benefit of those who needed a bit more joy from friends they didn't even know they had.

Laura Bovitz, Middlesex County 4-H Agent, noted that 140 parents with 360 kids would benefit from the hard work of the 4-H members.  "13 different agencies in Middlesex County" received support from the 4-H."  Project Gift has been in place since 1997, starting with a program that provided gifts for 75 children in Middlesex County.  "This year, 80 teenagers from the Junior Council and Teen Council worked on this event, along with 20 teenagers from New Brunswick who will provide bilingual support in Spanish." 

At age 20, Rachel Van Demark of South Brunswick, has been in 4-H for half her life.  Currently a nursing student at Rutgers, Rachel is proud to have worked on Project Gift for the past few years, with this being her first time at the "gift wrap station." "You get a sense of accomplishment from this event because parents get a different level of satisfaction from giving their own gifts to their children," said Van Demauk, who has been involved with 4-H since Grade 4.  Working at gift wrap has allowed her to "see all the kids' names and to think of the presents under the tree" that 4-H has provided.

The set-up event was full of life, energy, good will and hip-hop as 4-H members set up toys, sang, danced, and smiled.  Somehow, it began to feel a lot like Christmas.  

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