ProudLiving Companies, a New Jersey-based real estate company with a mission of long-term neighborhood revitalization, is partnering with the East Orange Housing Authority (EOHA) and Sierra House for its third annual Toy Drive on Monday, Dec. 21 and Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. Given the COVID-19 climate, ProudLiving’s team of volunteers will make contactless deliveries to almost 1,000 pre-registered children and families.
According to ProudLiving President and Founder TJ Caleca, the annual event, while a different format this year, continues to grow, thanks in part to an expanding infrastructure and donor base. He added, “For the health and safety of our volunteers and community, we have worked to transform our outreach. With the assistance of our generous donors and all of our volunteers, we will be able to continue this important tradition.”
The two-day event will kick-off with a Santa-themed “caravan” starting at East Orange City Hall, escorted by the East Orange Police Department. Social-distanced photo opportunities with Santa will be available at multiple stops.
According to Caleca, ProudLiving Companies and partner organizations collected more than 650 toys for this year’s drive. The event is open to any families that need assistance during the holiday season – especially in a year complicated by the public health crisis and economic fallout.
“It’s important that Isabel Hayden, our VP of ProudLiving Foundation, is recognized for her commitment and effort to this cause,” Caleca added. “I throw a lot of ideas in her direction throughout the year and she is the one who ultimately orchestrates these incredible events.”
In previous years, a traditional, in-person holiday event catered to 1,500 children and families.
Local organizations including Sierra House and the EOHA will also donate toys. Sierra House is a nonprofit that provides housing to homeless youth, assists working families with affordable housing and teaches life skills to children with developmental disabilities. The EOHA, an event sponsor, similarly works to enhance quality of life through partnerships, social services and sustainable housing opportunities.
The event emcee and EOHA Director of Operations, Elena D. Coley, added, “The EOHA is proud to partner with ProudLiving and expand our service reach within the community – to further our mission of holistically enhancing quality of life. While 2020 was a challenge all around, we’re thrilled to be able to help put forward a positive and equally impactful community event this holiday season.”
“Even in a challenging climate, the ProudLiving team is excited to carry on this holiday tradition. We always look forward to opportunities that allow us to put smiles on the faces of our tenants and community members,” said Hayden, vice president of the company’s charitable advancements.. “Being able to provide a bit of normalcy or a positive impact on someone during this holiday season makes our event a clear success.”
Caleca shared: “This has been a very unique year, to put it mildly. But, with every challenge comes a new opportunity for growth, learning and a display of character. I genuinely appreciate these times as they truly afford us a chance to further demonstrate our commitment to the company’s mission and to the people we are ultimately responsible to.”
“Anyone can look good in three feet of water; it’s only when caught in a storm that we can separate the swimmers from the drifters,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited about this year’s event and take great pride in embracing and ‘swimming through the storm,’ together.”
Last month, ProudLiving Companies donated 1,000 Thanksgiving turkeys in a partnership with five New Jersey municipalities – another social-distanced holiday event that found staffers safely distributing turkeys to members of the Essex County community.
Dan has a knack for in-depth news coverage and storytelling and comes from a journalistic and creative background. He is a former staff writer and critic for the New York Daily News, where he covered entertainment, politics, lifestyle and hard news. He is also the former editor of the Cyber Security Hub, a B2B media site covering the enterprise security vertical. Dan holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University, where he focused in historical fiction. He also holds a BA in Communication (Journalism/Public Relations) and a Minor in History from Monmouth University. He has also worked as a municipal reporter and freelance writer/critic for numerous outlets, including NorthJersey.com, The Cheat Sheet, Critical Movie Critics and more.