ELIZABETH, NJ—Basketball season is just getting started, and the 24 Annual Hoops to End Homelessness Basketball Classic, an exciting afternoon-into-evening of hearty hoops, is being held on February 3, 2018, at the Dunn Sports Center on Pearl Street.  

The event benefits the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, in particular, its Operation Warm Heart Program, which is a winter shelter program for the chronic homeless. “This event supports our Operation Warm Heart Program,” Betsy Fabricant, a longtime Coalition volunteer, and fundraiser committee chair said. “When the temperatures drop below freezing, we pick up homeless people and bring them to shelters. These are the individuals that are the hardest to serve because they do not come to us. We have to go out and find them.”  

“Operation Warm Heart receives no federal funding, so we really need to raise money for this vital program that brings in the street-bound homeless who may have nowhere else to turn during the coldest time of the year,” the Coalition’s executive director Linda Flores-Tober said.

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Operation Warm Heart is only one of the Coalition’s programs focused on combating homeless and near homeless. The non-profit operates Homeless Prevention and Emergency shelters, Hospitality Houses that have housed more than 150 working families, ESL and Community Education classes, and Bernice’s Place, an after-school and summer program for homeless and near homeless children, the only one of its kind in the state.

“This is about Elizabeth and an agency that has continued for nearly 40 years to provide a safety net for families throughout Union County,” Fabricant said. “We want the public to know about the work we are doing in Elizabeth. We are saving lives.”

The Coalition is seeking sponsors to support Hoops to End Homelessness. “We are looking for sponsors to understand the value of this work, so we can continue to provide these services to the people of Elizabeth.”

The event will feature eight local teams who will battle against each other, in a good-natured show of sportsmanship - and all for a good cause. The schedule is as follows:

               2:00 p.m.  Elizabeth Police Department vs. Union County Sheriff’s Officers

               3:30 p.m. Elizabeth High School Girls vs. Newark’s North 13th Technical School

               5:00 p.m.  Elizabeth High School Boys vs. St. Mary’s High School

“This is a community-wide event that enjoys the involvement of the Elizabeth Police Department, Union County’s Sheriff’s officers, our local high schools, and the businesses that participate by taking ads in the program journal,” Flores-Tober said. “Over the years we’ve seen everyone rally together to make a difference in their community. Hoops to End Homelessness is a wonderful opportunity to connect with neighbors and friends and to take part in supporting those who need our help through the winter and year. It isn’t every day that happens in a community, so when it does happen it needs to be applauded.”

Area school children are asked to bring gloves, hats, or socks as their admittance to Hoops to End Homelessness. 

“This year, we are asking schools to get their students involved by collecting items such as gloves, hats, and socks, items desperately needed by those who are living on the streets.”

Students who donate will receive a complimentary ticket to the games. 

“In addition, we are seeking sponsors to purchase tickets for students who may not be able to afford to come,” Flores-Tober added. “Hoops to End Homelessness is an all-inclusive, community event, and we want everyone to be able to attend.”

Tickets are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for youths ($3 if purchased in advance) and may be purchased online at theelizabethcoalition.eventbrite.com, or at the door the day of the fundraiser. For ad journal information or to buy tickets, contact the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, 118 Division St, Elizabeth, NJ 07201; 908-355-2060, ext. 206.

About Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless

The Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless is a nonprofit established 35 years ago to serve the needs of the homeless and the near homeless in the community. The agency works to give their clients the tools to transition to safe, affordable housing so they can live healthy, productive lives and where they are accepted as members of the community. The Coalition teaches people to self-advocate and to empower themselves to become self-sufficient. The agency seeks to build a community of support and compassion in partnership with St. Joseph Social Service Center, the community-at-large, volunteers, and other agencies committed to advancing the interests of homeless and near homeless people.

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