NEW JERSEY: The magic of the true spirit of Christmas is alive and well in New Jersey. Last Thursday marked the 18th Annual RAINE (Reaching All In Need Every Day) Foundation Christmas Giving Event. Over 500 volunteers gathered to successfully complete the mission they had put thousands of hours of preparation into, all to bring joy to over 1,500 children and their families. The volunteers consisted of many local families, business owners, police, fire, first aid, the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office and more. 

You may have noticed recently that the building at 2931 Route 35 N, (formerly Frank's Nursery) was transformed into Santa's Workshop. It was the second year in a row that the owner of the vacant space, Ray Catena generously prepped, and then donated the use of his building to the RAINE Foundation, to set up their workshop to prepare for the holiday season.

Founder of RAINE, Patti Dickens comments, "The generosity of the Bayshore community is amazing. There are so many local businesses and families who give so much when there is a need. For example, Mary Ellen Harris, Golden Dome Foundation founder, donated gifts for 100 children on RAINE's wish gift list. In a beautiful tribute she donated the gifts in honor of her late husband, Dr. Robert H. Harris."  

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In addition to the Catena family donating the workshop, Ray Catena's daughter Sandi donated 165 bicycles guaranteed to make 165 children feel the true Christmas spirit!

After months of collecting gifts, managing logistics, wrapping...the evening finally came on Thursday, when 41 Santa Claus helpers, with countless elves, escorted by local firetrucks, set off to deliver toys to families who were on the schedule to deliver to. This year RAINE had 392 stops from Sayerville to Asbury Park, with over 1500 children who would all receive personalized gifts wrapped special for them.  Most stops were escorted by one of the 37 various fire companies, with lights flashing and sirens blaring, all adding to the excitement. 

Every one of the 1500 gifts has a story behind it. Perhaps a parent lost their job, have a sick family member, many homes have parents who are hard at work but just find it hard to make ends meet at the end of the day...maybe the child has a life situation where a visit is needed...whatever the story is, the RAINE Foundation helps get the children's wishes to Santa's elves, next sprinkle that RAINE magic, and voila! The true meaning of Christmas unfolds. 

 Watch the brief video below to catch a glimpse of what goes on in Santa's RAINE Workshop: 

 

 

At this year's event,  RAINE Foundation made a beautiful tribute to Phil Mangini.  " Phil was always a constant supporter of the RAINE Foundation.  Truly Missed but obviously beautifully remembered." commented Anthony Petruzzi, RAINE's President. 

Founder Patti Dickens comments, "We are all so blessed!  I can't stop SMILING about the success of this year's event! To have accomplished as much as we did, in such a short period of time, is amazing.  I've been filled with pride as I watched food, clothing, and necessities being distributed; toys being sorted and wrapped, and then finally DELIVERED!   Garry Foltz was responsible for the smooth delivery night, which took days to accomplish and went off without a hitch.  One person who went above and beyond for us this year was Gina Seber. She was responsible for our data entry and quality controls.  It’s a difficult job that no one wants to do.  She did it with grace!   She was excellent which is also a big reason for our success this year. The success is truly due to a community effort.   I know one thing - you can make a difference.  Thank you to everyone that has volunteered for or have donated to the RAINE Foundation.  Merry Christmas!"   

The RAINE Foundation established in 2001, consists of compassionate, caring individuals, who strive to make a difference in the lives of others, specifically children and families in crisis. To make a donation or for more information click here.