This year Holiday Express kicked off its 23rd season on Nov. 9 and will travel to a record-setting 81 locations delivering music, food, gifts, financial support and friendship to those in need.
The nonprofit — comprised of more than 1,600 volunteers, including 150 musicians — visits the mentally and physically ill, the homeless, the hungry, and the physically disabled.
Holiday Express travels the entire state of New Jersey plus makes stops in New York and Pennsylvania to deliver holiday cheer. Additionally, this year Holiday Express will celebrate its 1,000th event.
With 13 more events than last year, Holiday Express has been working year- round to make sure the nonprofit can meet the need to bring the warmth of human kindness to those who need it the most this holiday season. Volunteers at the Holiday Express warehouse have been collecting, sorting and packing donations that come in throughout the year.
“We will give out 20,000 gift bags this season. No one leaves empty-handed,” said Holiday Express founder and Little Silver resident Tim McLoone. Gift bag items often include toiletries, blankets, warm hats, scarves and socks.
While the live music provided by the Holiday Express musicians enlivens the parties, many hours behind the scenes make each event a success. Each event comes complete with a visit from the Grinch, Frosty and, of course, Santa.
While most of the Holiday Express events are private, there are a limited number of opportunities for the public to witness the fun and magic of the Holiday Express Band all while raising money for the mission.
Public events are planned for the Red Bank Town Lighting on Friday, Nov. 27; the Holiday Express Christmas Spectacular Benefit Concert, Dec. 10 at NJPAC (tickets at www.njpac.org); and the Holiday Express Benefit Concert, Dec. 17 at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank (www.countbasietheatre.org),
Ways to help Holiday Express carry out its mission include monetary donations, sponsorships of events, and donations of goods and services. For more information, call 732- 544-8010 or visit www.holidayexpress.org.