As we all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and preparing home-cooked meals for a full-house of family and friends, it’s always nice to keep our local nonprofits in mind and the great work they do for people struggling with illnesses, animals who have been abused and in search of a forever home, and much more. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have worked with nonprofits for most of my life, and I believe giving and supporting begins at home. We have so many amazing charities right here in Bergen and Hudson Counties. Here are just some of many amazing charities I encourage you to add to your holiday to-do list this season.

At Christmas time, children’s charities hold a special place in my heart. Spring Lake Toys Foundation {852 Franklin Avenue Suite 115, Franklin Lakes; 201.962.0865;} is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting children battling life-threatening diseases, and assists families struggling with their children’s medical
expenses. Discover how you can give to children this holiday season.

The Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities (J-ADD) {50 Eisenhower Drive Suite 202, Paramus; 201.457.0058;} is a terrific organization that has been helping community members affected by intellectual and developmental disabilities in North Jersey for over 25 years, through residential, vocational, and respite services. I am excited to be working with such wonderful people organizing events to raise awareness, as well as the much-needed
funds in order to keep resident houses maintained. Consider donating, volunteering, or learning how you can join along at an upcoming event.

The Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors {PO Box 836, Franklin Lakes; 201.410.2751;}. This wonderful charity, also known as IronMatt, helps children and families affected by
pediatric brain tumors. I organized the group’s very first event, a tennis and golf outing, which was a huge success thanks to the community. Shortly thereafter, the foundation was formed by the Larson family who lost their beloved Matt. I was honored to serve as a board member for several years. You can donate and help the foundation raise awareness and funds to help children and families affected by pediatric brain tumors.

Tomorrow’s Children Fund {30 Prospect Avenue, Hackensack; 551.996.5500;}, located at Hackensack Meridian Health inside the Hackensack University Medical Center, provides comfort, counseling and financial assistance to children with cancer and blood disorders. For many years, I’ve worked as a volunteer raising money and collecting donations of toys, clothing, diapers, bibs, and other items. A fashion show I organized with the patients stole attendees’ hearts while they rocked the runway. A special shout-out to “CEO Lynn.”

Children’s Aid and Family Services {200 Robin Road, Paramus; 201.261.2800;} is a nonprofit specializing in services for adoption, therapeutic foster care, drug and alcohol abuse education and prevention, in-home support services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, among others. As a volunteer, I visited a home and met some of the children awaiting adoption. I am personally grateful to CAFS for helping me find my
sister through their adoption support services. The social workers turned a very emotional journey into the best day of my life when we met. Find out how you can make a difference in someone’s life today!

Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge, Inc. {2 Shelter Lane, Oakland; 201.337.5180;} is a no-kill animal shelter that protects abandoned, abused, and unwanted animals by finding them kind and loving homes. What better time than the holidays to inquire about adoption, donation, and volunteer opportunities or attending one of many held events.
I organized a doggy adoption a couple of years ago, and the love the staff has for the animals and their
dedication to this charity was truly heartwarming.

Beautiful Self {Art Factory, 70 Spruce Street, Paterson;} is an organization dedicated to helping women boost self-esteem after their diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. The patients’ wonderful outlooks are due to the dedication and work of the founders, Jillian Rezo and Michele Bonacorte. I had so much fun when I planned
a fashion show with some of the women who had either been undergoing, or completed, treatment. One model I will never forget and wanted to give special mention to, is a woman who passed away a week after the show. I am confident she is modeling and keeping everyone laughing in heaven! Be sure to learn more about this awesome charity and upcoming events.

Table to Table {611 Route 46 West, Suite 240, Hasbrouck Heights; 201.444.5500;} is a community-based food rescue program that collects prepared and perishable food for the hungry in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Passaic
counties. DiningOut has always been supportive of this wonderful organization. Nearly one million people in New Jersey need food services, including one-in-seven children. From corporations and small businesses to food establishments and individuals, all are encouraged help in the form of financial contributions and/or food donations.

I would like to thank all of you for reading my DiningOut column and following me on Instagram @lindaslist and the magazine @diningoutnj. Best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy and healthy 2020! Ciao for now!