EAST ORANGE, NJ - The Shauger Group, Inc. (TSG) has once again partnered with former New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford to spread holiday cheer and help families in need around Thanksgiving. On Tuesday, November 22, 2016, Weatherford and Donald Shauger, vice president of TSG, handed out turkeys to underprivileged families in Newark in an effort organized by the Believe in Newark Foundation. Earlier that same day, Weatherford and Shauger also delivered $1,250 in $25 ShopRite gift cards for needy families in East Orange.
Weatherford and Shauger presented the grocery store gift cards to East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor and members of East Orange's City Council, who are in charge of distributing them to underserved members of the community. Weatherford and Shauger, accompanied by their respective families, then passed out 50 turkeys in the late afternoon to Newark residents at Newark's JFK Recreation Center. They were joined by members of Newark's City Council, including West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum, and stayed until all turkeys had been dispersed.
TSG and Weatherford’s involvement with Believe in Newark’s Thanksgiving turkey collection traces back to Believe in Newark’s first annual turkey drive, which was held in November 2014. At the time, TSG and Weatherford donated turkeys to the cause, and they personally delivered a portion of the turkeys directly to residents of Newark’s South Ward from the back of TSG’s “Weatherford Tailgate Bus.”
Believe in Newark, a nonprofit charitable organization, was founded in 2014 to better the lives of people in the Newark community through a collaboration with local community partners. By providing resources, assistance, and support to Newark residents and nonprofit organizations alike, Believe in Newark strives to fulfill its core mission: improving the “literacy, quality of life, youth development, and recreational services” within Newark.
“Having been raised in a single-parent home, I know firsthand the struggles families face to put food on their tables,” said Shauger. “I watched my mother sacrifice daily for my four siblings and me, working six to seven days per week just to make ends meet. What stands out in my memory, other than my mother’s fierce work ethic, is every gesture of kindness we received. During the holidays, people from our church donated food baskets to our family; acts of generosity like this—from strangers and friends alike—got us through. I am now fortunate enough to be able to give back and help others who are in a similar position to the one I was in, and I will never pass on the opportunity to make their lives a little easier.
“While it’s easy for us to take something like a Thanksgiving turkey for granted, there are so many people for whom a Thanksgiving turkey is a dream,” added Shauger. “It’s important to never lose that perspective, especially at this time of year.”
TSG’s community efforts on and around the holidays are always substantial. In the past, TSG has donated turkeys to the City of East Orange, which then distributed them to underprivileged families. In 2014, some TSG employees and their families volunteered on Thanksgiving morning at the Prudential Center, where they joined Prudential Center staff members in serving breakfast to local families in need. TSG has been an active and longtime supporter of the Apostles’ House, a shelter for homeless and at-risk families in Newark; in prior years, TSG has donated turkeys and other food items to help provide the Apostles’ House’s residents with memorable Thanksgiving meals. The Shauger family also spends Christmas morning nearly every year at the Apostles’ House, passing time with the women and children in the shelter, and presenting gifts to the families.
Weatherford has joined TSG in various projects at the Apostles’ House as well: he too has spent Christmas mornings distributing presents to the families and, last year, through his Steve Weatherford World Champion Foundation, Weatherford sponsored a continental breakfast for the shelter’s residents. Additionally, Weatherford assisted TSG and other local companies when they carried out an extreme makeover project at the Apostles’ House in 2007.
Regular partners in community service, Weatherford and TSG actively seek out opportunities to give back, foster goodwill, and have a meaningful impact upon the community. Tireless in their efforts to improve the lives of others, Weatherford and Shauger have spearheaded philanthropic projects such as donating smoke detectors to families in need and sponsoring a Target shopping spree for disadvantaged children. Through one of Shauger’s other companies, fitness center Next Level Training, Shauger and Weatherford host the annual Project Prom, an initiative that focuses on issues such as anti-bullying, encourages children to overcome adversity, and has reached over 200 students to date.