Springfield, NJ –The good will of the holiday season has given birth to a new nonprofit charity outreach program intended to provide assistance to needy families in Springfield throughout the year.
Springfield H.O.P.E. – or Helping Other People Endure – was created to enable residents, businesses and visitors to town to help individuals and families cope with extraordinary circumstances or simply just get by throughout the year, not only during the holiday season.
The organization is the brainchild of Tom Ernst, a retired career Springfield firefighter and coordinator of the Springfield Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. Ernst formed the not-for-profit corporation as a result of his experiences with Toys for Tots and as a firefighter.
"People want to make donations all year long, not just at the holidays," Ernst said. "And they want to give not only toys, but donations of money and other goods, as well.” As we have expanded our outreach we have partnered with the Springfield Rotary, the Springfield Kiwanis, the Springfield Community Conference of Schools, the St. James Columbiettes, the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and other groups so we can bring hope to those that need it most.
Last year Ernst noted that the home of a Springfield family was completely destroyed by fire and literally had only the clothes on their back. There was an outpouring of support from the community, but it reached the point that donations of clothes, toys and other goods became too much. You may not need 20 coats to get by, but you could use help with food, books and other necessities," Ernst said.
The firefighter realized it would be great to have an entity to accept cash donations for cases like this and turned to the Springfield Chamber of Commerce for help. The Chamber quickly jumped on board and donated $500 to help form a corporation.
In 2009 Ernst retired from HOPE and Dr. Gary Hecht has taken his place as a Trustee.
Scott Seidel, Springfield Chamber co-chair, worked to establish a New Jersey not-for-profit corporation consisting of four trustees: Ernst, Seidel, Chamber of Commerce co-chair Pat Paolella of Kearny Federal Savings Bank and Chamber Treasurer John Cottage. All four individuals will donate their time to run Springfield H.O.P.E.
Seidel confirms that the organization is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(C)3 Tax Exempt Corporation.
Beyond filing fees, all proceeds of Springfield H.O.P.E. will directly benefit needy families and individuals in the township. According to Cottage, donations will be in the form of gift cards to local establishments, food stores, clothing stores, etc., to avoid abuse of the system.