Another Holiday Season, Another Opportunity to Pay It Forward
January 20, 2020
For The Shauger Group (TSG) and Shauger family, the holiday season is always one filled with giving back.
In a tradition TSG and the Shauger family have held for 13 years, they once again donated Christmas presents and a special Christmas morning meal to the women and children at Newark’s Apostles’ House shelter. The Apostles’ House, a shelter for homeless and at-risk families, provides safe haven to women and children, such as those experiencing homelessness or domestic abuse.
In past years, the Shaugers have even partnered with NFL players to give gifts and brunch to Apostles’ House residents on Christmas.
It is a tradition that means a lot to Donald Shauger, in particular—Donald, executive vice president of TSG, grew up in a single-parent household that struggled to make ends meet, so he knows firsthand the kinds of daily challenges that the women and children at the Apostles’ House face. Donald finds special meaning in knowing that he can do something to help them and bring smiles to their faces during a difficult time.
“Paying it forward matters so much, especially when you know it’s going to help people who are facing one of the most challenging parts of their lives,” said Donald. “The women and children at the Apostles’ House are there for a variety of reasons, and they’re all struggling to get back on their feet. Sometimes it’s hard to stay positive when you’re going through such a rough patch, which is why we always make it a priority to remember the Apostles’ House families—we want the women and children to have their day brightened by the kindness of strangers, we want them to know there are people who care about them and want to help them overcome their struggles, and we want them to experience the warmth and joy of the holidays.”
As part of the Christmas morning festivities, TSG, as well as the Shauger family (Lisa, Donald, Marisa, and Donnie), donated a full continental breakfast for the women and children at the shelter to enjoy. The breakfast came from East Hanover’s Classic Café Management, which has worked together with TSG for the many years to provide the Christmas Day continental breakfast at the Apostles’ House.
“We make it our mission to support the Apostles’ House in any way we can throughout the entire year,” said Lisa Shauger, president/CEO of TSG. “Our annual tradition of providing the Apostles’ House families with breakfast and gifts on Christmas is one that’s particularly near and dear to our hearts. As a family and as a company, it’s an honor for us to offer what we can to the families.”
Donald personally brought the presents to the Apostles’ House on Christmas Eve, so that they would be ready for the residents to open first thing on Christmas morning.
Each year, the shelter’s residents open the gifts in the Laura Shauger Room at the Apostles’ House. Renovated by TSG and the Shauger family, the Laura Shauger Room was named in memory of Donald’s mother, Laura, who had spent a lot of time at the Apostles’ House before she passed away in 2012. With a fierce work ethic, Laura often worked six or seven days a week, sometimes thirteen hours a day, to provide for her five children, one of whom was terminally ill—as a result of Laura’s tireless work ethic, she was able to successfully lift herself from under State aid. Familiar with many of the struggles faced by the women at the shelter, Laura would often speak with the women at the Apostles’ House about their lives, lending an ear as well as sharing her own experience as a single mother raising five children. Laura always hoped that hearing her story would give the mothers hope that they too would be able to persevere through their difficulties.
“Even as we struggled to put food on our own table, my mother never forgot to help others either—she always did what she could to help those who were less fortunate,” said Donald. “After her shift at Supreme Bakery, my mother would often bring leftover food to an orphanage in Denville for the kids to enjoy. She was a true model of selflessness and kindness, and I am so proud to be her son.”
“My mother loved the Apostles’ House so much,” added Donald. “She understood what the women at the shelter go through, especially the day-to-day difficulties they face as they try to make the best lives possible for themselves and their kids. My mother saw it as her responsibility to try and help them through it. Above all, she wanted to give them hope. Even though my mother is no longer here with us, the Apostles’ House will forever be a special place to my entire family—we always want to be there for the Apostles’ House families, especially when they need it the most. One of the goals of our Christmas tradition at the Apostles’ House is to get the families to live in the moment and help them forget about their struggles, even if only for a few minutes. They deserve some uninterrupted time where they can just smile, laugh, and celebrate the joy of the season.”
Also in the spirit of the holidays, TSG teamed up with SUEZ to donate toys and coats—as well as top-of-the-line bikes with helmets and locks—to a Toys for Tots donation drive and coat drive held by the City of Orange. TSG and SUEZ both served as sponsors of the toy drive, as did the Orange Municipal Council; Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren; Level 10 Nightclub; Toys for Tots; Bella Italia Restaurant; Golden Krust Restaurant; and Cheryl Davis-Marshall, Mayor Warren’s secretary. On Friday, December 13, Mayor Warren held a holiday party to collect donations and toys for the toy drive, which is in its eighth year. Over 200 toys were collected under a Christmas tree at the event, which was held at Level 10 Nightclub in Orange.
Six days later, on December 19, Mayor Warren held Orange’s annual “Toys for Tots Giveaway” at the Orange Elks Lodge. The toys that had been previously collected were then distributed to children in need; the giveaway event, open only to Orange residents, benefited children up to the age of 12. Throughout the three-hour event, Mayor Warren proudly referred to the location as “Santa’s headquarters” and—while wearing a Santa hat!—spent time interacting with the kids.
In addition to supporting the Apostles’ House and the City of Orange’s toy and coat drives, TSG rounded out the holiday season with another kind gesture to help local children: TSG donated 50 tickets to Disney on Ice to children in need in East Orange, where TSG’s headquarters are located, and partnered with SUEZ to donate an additional 50 tickets to kids in Orange. As part of the kids’ special outing to Newark’s Prudential Center for Disney on Ice, the tickets also include vouchers for refreshments.