Holiday Express does good, has fun in Asbury
ASBURY PARK - It was an unseasonably warm Christmas Eve and volunteers bustling to prepare holiday meals in the cramped Trinity Church soup kitchen were flush in the face from the heat.
Outside, a line of people with hungry appetites stretched down the sidewalk in front of church waiting to be served.
"It makes you feel good to do it. It's going to the greater good of the community," said Evan Victor, executive chef at McLoone's Asbury Grill, taking a quick break to talk to a reporter.
YOUR TURN: How have you helped others this year? Like us on Facebook and click on the comments to share your thoughts.
Victor and his five-person team cracked 500 dozen eggs, prepared 1,200 pancakes, 1,100 hash browns and sizzled 150 pounds of bacon to serve over 600 people during a Holiday Express Christmas event.
"Our mission is to deliver the gift of kindness to those in need and often forgotten," said Lorrie Klaric, executive director of Holiday Express.
Holiday Express is a nonprofit started over 20 years ago in Newark by restaurateur and musician Tim McLoone. Its interactive holiday party with live band, food and gift bags has become a holiday tradition.
"We love them. They're real. They come here every year and it's been a blessing and we appreciate their caring," said Albert Neal, 54, of Neptune.
Six years ago they brought the party to Trinity Church, where The Rev. Michael Way welcomes the partnership.
"We see ourselves as an asset to the community, so our focus is directed toward serving our neighbors. Holiday Express is right in line with us and they do a fantastic job," said Way.
This year they visited over 81 locations and yesterday, along with the meals and songs, handed out about 800 gift bags in Asbury that were filled with blankets, socks, hats, gloves, toiletries and stuffed reindeer for the kids.
"It's grown here. We probably served 400 people the first year and now we're seeing a lot of families with kids," said Sharon Kitlely, Holiday Express event organizer.
Dan Radel: 732-643-4072; firstname.lastname@example.org