Free Christmas Trees For Union Beach Take on Special Meaning
Residents of a Sandy-devastated northern Monmouth County community get a key symbol of the holiday season, a Christmas tree complete with all the decorations
On Saturday 75 trees, tree stands and hundreds of hand-made ornaments were donated by Operation Provide Comfort Union Beach, a volunteer organization made up of Colts Neck residents, merchants and church groups.
OPC-Union Beach Founding Member, Glen Dalakian, said their sole purpose is to assist Union Beach residents with recovery efforts for the long haul. "All though we couldn't provide millions and millions and millions of dollars. We felt we would be a good gap organization, filling the gaps wherever the needs may be," he explained.
Dalakian said their fund raising efforts run year-round with 100% of the proceeds going toward helping the residents of Union Beach. He said a critical component on zeroing in on the needs of Union Beach residents is getting input from the people of Union Beach themselves because several of them attend the meetings. "We ask the people what do you need? What are you not getting? What do you see as the gap that we need to fill?," Dalakian explained.
He explained that during their last meeting, with the holidays coming, someone mentioned the need for Christmas trees. "So we committed as a group to go out and buy Christmas Tree stands, ornaments, whatever we needed." However, Dalakian explained that members of other partner organizations stepped up and began filling the needs. He said Ed Brock of Brock Farms in Colts Neck donated fresh cut trees,
Tom Orgo owner of Slope Brook Farms donated manpower and trucks, children from the Colts Neck Reformed Church's "New Destinies 4 Kidz" group donated dozens of handmade ornaments and Colts Neck Business Association members also brought ornaments.
However, he said the main goal of beginning the nonprofit is to inspire other communities to do the same by partnering to help other hard hit communities and he says the efforts have caught on. Dalakian explained that Holmdel has begun a similar partnership with a town, Madison and Union residents have raised money for OPC-Union Beach and he says they're getting inquiries from other towns as well.
With almost 400 families not yet back in their homes, OPC-Union Beach is also planning other fundraising events for 2014. For more information visit their website at OPCUnionBeach.org or find them on Facebook under Operation Provide Comfort Union Beach.