Sharing, caring and joy were the themes of the day for 43 Essex County families in December when JNESO partnered with the Family Support Organization of Essex County to sponsor the first Angel Tree Celebration. The event was held at the Priory Restaurant in Newark, N.J. and featured over two hours of food and festivities chock full of holiday spirit.

JNESO members, nurses and techs, from four facilities joined forces to help make this event a huge success: Arbor Glen Care and Rehabilitation Center, Essex County Hospital Center, Newark Public Health and Saint Michael’s Medical Center.

“We had Angel Tree cards that listed the family name, children’s ages, genders, clothing sizes and ideas of what type of gifts they wanted.  Our members then chose a family to sponsor, some took three or four, and then purchased the gifts which we gave out during the event,” said Thurese Calhoun, JNESO Community Organizer. “The response from our members was amazing, some 555 participated. We were able to collect hundreds of gifts that were presented to 98 children ages 6-months to 17-years-old, and their parents.”

The celebration event included a luncheon for the families, face-painting for the children, a craft that had parents and children working together to decorate a picture frame, photos with Santa, and of course the presentation of the gifts. The variety of gifts included: tablets, LEGOs, L.O.L. Dolls, doll houses, Leapfrog systems, educational toys, art supplies and drawing kits, clothes, shoes and sneakers.

“The Angel Tree celebration was one of the largest scale events we have held, but our members volunteer throughout the year holding backpack and school supply drives, collecting clothing and food, staffing soup kitchens, participating in health fairs, and working with many local churches and community organizations,” said Calhoun. “Many JNESO nurses also travel outside our borders to assist the victims of natural disasters and to provide health services for people in third-world countries.”

The success of the Angel Tree celebration has given greater momentum to JNESO’s efforts to give back.

“We are looking forward to doing more activities that bring together multiple facilities in different geographic areas to expand our outreach efforts in the future,” said Calhoun.  “As an organization part of our goals are to serve the community and give back to those we serve,” said Calhoun.