Mayor Ras J. Baraka announced that the City is partnering with United Community Corporation this holiday season to host a “Shop With a Hero” event. 250 local youth will have the opportunity to go on a $100 shopping spree with a first responder, police officer, firefighter, doctor, nurse, or EMT, visiting stores on Broad and Market Streets in downtown Newark, on Saturday, December 17.
The program comes to the city at a time when the financial costs associated with December holidays can burden local underserved families that are already struggling with recent economic hardships and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our administration has a long-standing commitment to connecting our Police Officers and Firefighters with our residents on a personal level, and ‘Shop With a Hero’ does that by providing seasonal joy to city youth,” Mayor Baraka said. “Our children will receive more than a physical gift or toy when they participate in this program. They will discover that our public servants are there to protect and serve, and their spirits will be lifted. This collaboration is a win-win for Newark’s holiday season in the present – and for its future.”
“The youth and families of Newark hold a special place in my heart. Being able to provide an opportunity for them to purchase gifts without them worrying about how to cover the cost is an honor,” UCC Executive Director Craig Mainor said. “UCC is dedicated to identifying the unique needs within Essex County families and uniting with agencies to meet those needs. Together we can uplift the community.”
“The Office of Community Engagement is honored to collaborate with the United Community Corporation in programs to support our residents. In many ways, they have become an extension of our office and serve thousands of residents with food, clothes, toys, and other resources. Now we are connecting families with our everyday heroes for the holiday season. Together, we will continue to build a better Newark,” said Deputy Mayor of Community Engagement Jacqueline Quiles, whose office is among those coordinating this event.
After kicking off the holiday season with a successful such event last year, the City, UCC, and their partner organizations aim to build a lasting bond and mentorship between youth in Newark and a local hero. The goal of the event is to humanize the people behind the badge or mask so children can build relationships with police and other first responders.
In addition to bringing children joy during the holiday season, the event will also help families that are at risk. This event will ease the worry that parents and guardians have about providing gifts for their children and allow them to use their money towards basic needs.
“Shop With a Hero” would not be possible without the generous support from UCC’s partners including the City of Newark, Amerigroup, United Way, New Jersey Children’s Foundation, Goya, Newark Vulcan Pioneers, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, Newark Department of Public Safety, and Newark Public Schools.
“Amerigroup is proud to partner with the UCC for their Shop with the Hero event again this year,” Amerigroup Community Representative Margarita Valentin said. “This is a wonderful example of the community coming together to make the holidays special for local children and their families.”
UCC is still looking for additional sponsors and heroes for “Shop With a Hero.” To get involved, contact UCC Assistant Director of Community Engagement Tom Wiedmann at email@example.com or via phone at 973-642-0181 (Ext. 5448).