ELIZABETH, NJ – Swish, Slam, Dunk … the 25th Annual Hoops to End Homelessness Charity Basketball Games is coming Saturday, January 19, beginning at 3 p.m. to Dunn Sports Center on Pearl Street in Elizabeth, to benefit the Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless, the nonprofit established 37 years ago to serve the needs of the homeless and the near homeless.

This year’s games will be especially exciting. Top-ranked high school teams Elizabeth High School Boys and Girls, St. Mary’s High School, and Benedictine Academy promise to provide thrilling contests. In addition, Law Enforcement Officers will take on the Elizabeth Firefighters in the Annual Battle of the Badges. Also featured is the Clash of the Energy Titans, a game between PSE&G and Infineum.

“The atmosphere may be light-hearted, but the mission is serious -- that is to end homelessness,” said Linda Flores-Tober, ECHH’s executive director.  “Homelessness is a problem that affects every community regardless of how affluent a town may be.”

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In its more than three decades of existence, the Coalition has prevented homelessness for more than 15,000 households and found emergency shelter for more than 10,000 families, but it is a problem that continues to grow. In 2018 alone, the ECHH helped 850 families throughout Union County to find affordable housing.

“Each year, Hoops to end Homelessness brings the community together for the singular goal of ending homelessness because together we can conquer this critical problem that threatens our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Flores-Tober. 

Through its quarter-century existence, Hoops to End Homelessness has become an eagerly anticipated mid-winter event, made possible with the support of numerous corporations, local businesses, organizations, and individuals. This year is no different. Infineum USA L.P., Wakefern, Laundry Warehouse, Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth, and Westfield Area Y’s Men’s Club, along with dozens of others, are major contributors to this year’s games.

Explaining her company’s involvement, Lois Bass, Infineum’s community relations coordinator, said, “It is important to show others that we are supporting such an organization that does such wonderful work. It also falls within our corporate values to give back to the community. By participating we may be able to inspire someone else to step up to the plate.”

The event benefits the Elizabeth Coalition’s programs, in particular, its Operation Warm Heart Program, which is a winter shelter program for the chronically homeless. 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.

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

3:30 p.m.  Battle of the Badges: Law Enforcement Officers vs. Elizabeth Fire Fighters

4:30 p.m. Clash of the Energy Titans: PSE&G vs. Infineum

6:30 p.m. Elizabeth High School Girls vs. Benedictine Academy

 8:00 p.m.  Elizabeth High School Boys vs. St. Mary’s High School

As part of this fundraiser, the Coalition is collecting warm clothing items such as gloves, mittens, hats, socks, and scarves. Every student who donates an item will receive free admission. Children ages 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for youths ($3 if bought in advance or with valid student ID) 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. 202.

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