LINCROFT, NJ (Dec. 19, 2017) – Brookdale Community College students and employees rallied together in support of local families this holiday season, collecting and donating 500 gifts and more than $5,000 as part of the college’s 24th annual Giving Tree program.

The initiative, organized by Brookdale’s Employee Volunteer Connection (EVC) and held from Nov. 13 to Nov. 30, allowed students, employees and college departments to sponsor individual children and local families who were unlikely to have gifts to open during the holidays.

Participants purchased and wrapped gifts matching the ages and interests of specific local children and delivered them through a variety of local nonprofit organizations.

This year’s program supported children and families served by the Visiting Nurse Association of Central New Jersey, Family and Children’s Service of Monmouth County, St. Joseph’s Church in Keyport and Brookdale’s Displaced Homemaker Program. Additional support was provided to the college’s new Helping Hands initiative and the Brookdale Foundation.

“I continue to be amazed every year at the outpouring of love, kindness and generosity for this program,” said EVC member and Brookdale accounting specialist Helen Vota. “Our students and staff do not just shop for a gift, they put so much time and effort into each person and include so many nice extras and then wrap it all up so beautifully.  This is a project that everyone looks forward to every year.”

In total, the Giving Tree program collected and donated 400 wrapped presents and more than 100 gift cards to local children and families. Private donors also contributed funds. The initiative was co-chaired by Vota and Brookdale administrative assistant Ann Marie Alfieri.

The Brookdale Employee Volunteer Connection, established in 1995, includes more than 100 college faculty, staff and administrators who work to rally support and resources for local residents and nonprofits each year. Annual EVC initiatives include the Empty Bowls program, which supports local food pantries and charities, and Project Backpack, which collects school supplies for local children.