Collecting gift cards instead of toys & clothes — The Observer and elsewhere

As 2020 continues to be one of the most non-traditional years in recent memory, so, too, may it be said of the arriving Holiday Season. It appears many towns, non-profits and other organizations, instead of collecting toys and clothing for those in need, will instead be collecting gift cards.

And, last week, we at The Observer decided to follow suit — with a local twist.

Over the last 20 years, the newspaper’s office has been a central collection location for toys for infants through teens. However, The Observer’s office has been closed to the public since early in March when the COVID-19 Pandemic broke out in the United States.

So Lisa Feorenzo, co-owner of the newspaper, decided it was best to be a drop-off location for gift cards.

“We are leaning on the generosity of our readers and advertisers as we do every year,” Feorenzo said. “We certainly understand it’s different this year — and that not everyone who has donated in the past may be able to do so this year. But community organizers and non-profits have already told us the need is greater than ever before.”

To make this gift-card drive even more effective, The Observer is asking that whenever possible, donors consider purchasing gift cards (or certificates) from local businesses. That way, in helping those in need, you’ll also be helping to stimulate the local economy, as many restaurants and mom & pop shops continue to struggle as the virus itself still rears its ugly head.

“By asking our generous readers and advertisers to consider donations of cards from local businesses, we hope to make the Christmas season better not just for those in need, but for the business community also,” Feorenzo said.

Of course, we realize it won’t always be possible for donors to get local gift cards. As such, The Observer also welcomes donations from larger organizations such as ShopRite, WalMart, etc. And, as an added touch, we’re asking all donors to choose the town where the cards will be directed in mid-December.

Organizations from all the towns we cover have agreed to accept the donations we collect. So, inside this week’s edition — and in the coming weeks — there will be a clippable slip to include with your donation, where you may circle the town of your choice.

We will follow your wishes to a tee.

Now, since The Observer’s office is still closed to the public, there are two ways for your to submit donations. The first is through the mail. Send cards and your town choice to The Observer, 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny, N.J. 07032. The other way is to drop off donations at our safe & secure outdoor black mailbox, which is located on the stairs to the office, just in front of our main door, at 39 Seeley Ave., Kearny.

“We thank everyone who will be able to participate this year,” Feorenzo said. “We are grateful and we’re certain there will be many people and businesses whose holidays will be made better because your generosity.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.