Giving Back

Sparta Community Rallies behind Tilly’s Kids


SPARTA, NJ - The Sparta community is once again rallying behind the Tilly’s Kids Organization run out of Newark in an attempt to bring holiday gifts to thousands of children living in poverty. In large part, the reason for the success of the Christmas Outreach program is due to the generosity of the Sparta community.

Donations collected from within the community surpass donations collected from any other locale in New Jersey according to program director, Pastor Tilly Giresi. Tilly’s Kids was recognized by Governor Christie in 2015 and awarded the Governor’s Jefferson Award for best faith based charity.

“The outpouring of the Sparta community's love for the kids in Newark is overwhelmingly generous,"Pastor Tilly said.   “Tilly's Kids is so blessed to have this relationship that reaches out to so many in need.”  

Sign Up for E-News

 The organization provides designated children in need, identified generally through the Newark Public School system, with a gift bag that contains a book, warm hat and gloves, and one or two age appropriate toys such as a board game, puzzle, Legos, doll, craft, matchbox cars, and sports ball.  For many of the children, this gift is the only gift that they will receive at the holidays.

This year, Tilly’s Kids has an ambitious agenda to reach children at thirteen schools, several churches, multiple homeless shelters, and the Beth Israel Hospital’s special unit for children who have suffered abuse or neglect. In addition, a special delivery will go to NICU babies and moms on Christmas Eve at Beth Israel hospital.

In October, Catherine Wille, health and physical Education teacher at Sparta High School initiated a District wide dress-down Friday for the staff at all five Sparta school buildings. The teachers and staff donated $500 that went towards the purchase of warm knit hats and gloves, purchased at wholesale prices from a New York City supplier.

In November, Denise Garagliano, fifth grade teacher at Helen Morgan School coordinated a successful toy drive. Ms. Garagliano, with the support of HMS Principal, Doug Layman, has been instrumental in conducting the toy drive for the past several years, first at Sparta Middle School and now at Helen Morgan Elementary. She will be on hand later this month along with her two young children to pass out the gifts in Newark.

In December, three of the high school team sports banquets held ball collections. The boys and girls Sparta High School soccer teams collected new soccer balls. They will be donated to third grade boys and girls at an elementary in Newark. In a long standing tradition, the SHS football team donated new footballs and basketballs for older seventh and eighth grade boys.

Many area families and businesses run their own collections from appeals to neighbors and friends. The Faria family in Sparta runs a collection from Inspire Fitness. The Ryan family is collecting hats and gloves at St. Kateri parish. The Zugelder family has a Youcare crowdfunding webpage and proceeds go to the purchase of hundreds of board games. The Target Corporation supplies gift cards that go towards the purchase of toys. Dr. Tracey Mendel, Chiropractor in Sparta, collects at her office. Pass-it-along in Sparta collects donations and provides volunteers to deliver.

The Gennat family collects books from an elementary schools and youngest son, Paul Gennat, along with his friend, Jimmy Hyland raised $80 to purchase new books for donation. Lady of the Lakes Catholic Church in Sparta also donates books from their carnival in the summer. The Kittatinny HS library, in going through a redesign, donated cartons of books through resident Dr. Carol Fishbone, a teacher at the school.  

Pattie Brown, a Sparta Township employee, is donating handmade blankets to the NICU babies, Mary Bernat of Sparta, along with other local residents, have been furiously sewing and knitting hats.

These are literally a few of many examples of the outpouring of support in the community.

Gifts are hand delivered by a small army of Tilly’s Kids volunteers on select dates in the week approaching Christmas. Delivery day is a magical day for both the recipients and the volunteers who deliver. For many of the volunteers, this date is reserved all year round and becomes an experience they can’t easily explain without a huge smile and a touching story.  Pastor Tilly observes that ‘as the different testimonies are shared, tears of gratitude are shed with emotions of love deeply felt.”

Every year, there are seniors at Sparta High School that chose to write their college essay on this experience. For some, this volunteer experience was a defining moment in their lives.

Former Sparta HS graduate and current Penn State student, Teddy Fischer ended his college essay with this:

“A better future can start with just the gift of a ball, a circle with no end, and endless possibilities to bounce around.”

  • To learn more about how you can help, please visit this website:
  • Items that are still needed are board games, new stuffed animals, boxes of crayons, children’s hats and gloves and new sports balls.

Peggy Fischer is the local Tilly’s Kids Christmas Outreach Coordinator.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police: Car Crash Leads to Warrant Arrest

March 20, 2018

SPARTA, NJ –  A car going too fast for the snowy road conditions crashed on Route 15.  No one was injured in the one car crash but the driver, Melvin Pineda-Castro of Plainfield, 27, was taken into custody.  On March 13 around 6:30 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin arrived at the scene, according to police.

Pineda-Castro had lost control of his black Honda CRV, hit ...

Sparta Police: Failure to Keep Right Ends with Two in Jail

SPARTA, NJ – Two people from Dingman’s Ferry are facing charges for drugs and other issues after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On March 16 around 12:45 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped Cory Parker, 34, for failing to keep right, police report.

The officer smelled raw marijuana when speaking with Parker in the red four door Ford.  The passenger, 35-0year-old Lindsey Hutchinson ...

Sparta Police Pick Up Franklin Woman Driving While Suspended

SPARTA, NJ – A traffic stop yielded an arrest for driving with a suspended license for a Franklin woman.  On March 13 around 11:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Timothy Lynott stopped Christina Bradford on Route 15 for having a broken tail light on her gray GMC pickup, police report.

When the officer checked her credentials, he found Bradford’s license had been suspended and she ...

5 Tips for elected officials

March 9, 2018

Dear Editor,

Wayne Levante, a self-described moderate, business-friendly mayor of Newton since his appointment 8 months ago, has been mired by one misstep and controversy after another.  From peddling debunked conspiracy theories about student “crisis actors” in the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting on social media, attacking residents and calling them ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton’s Spring Street Turned Green for a Day for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 19, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—Despite the semi-chilly weather, residents from Newton, Sparta, Andover, Green, and all over Sussex County gathered on Spring Street, dressed in green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year was Sussex County’s 15th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and had over 941 people marching in it, 79 vehicles, six floats and about 45 animals.

The ...

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


Atlantic Health System's Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller Named A CMO to Know for 2018

March 20, 2018

Atlantic Health System, an integrated health care delivery system, is proud to announce that, Jan Schwarz-Miller, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Atlantic Health System, was named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s 100 Hospital and Health System CMOs to Know 2018.

Dr. Schwarz-Miller, was appointed to her current role almost two years ago. Prior to that, ...