WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP (Warren) — After reaching 250 local families last year, the Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Crisis Center of Warren County's Holiday Shoppe hopes to accommodate 50 additional families for the 2017 holiday season, providing new and unwrapped toys, gifts and gift cards for children.

DASACC's "elves" who help carry out this yearly program have been preparing for this year's edition since September, said Jill Zinckgraf, the center's executive director. Their stable of helpers includes individuals as well as area businesses, such as banks and pharmacies, which sponsor their own toy drives.

Zinckgraf said she and the rest of DASACC often experience the "ugliest part of humanity," with so many of the cases they handle involving women who have been abused, or are in danger of being victimized. But the Holiday Shoppe affords the group the opportunity to give back by keeping the happiness of children in mind — no matter which parent comes to select gifts.

"There's something very special about running an agency that caters to women, and having men walking through, and showing that we're all connected," Zinckgraf said. "There's an interconnectedness with all of us."

The Holiday Shoppe is open, by appointment, during the week of Dec. 18 through 22 at DASACC's Outreach Center in Washington. Santa Claus will be appearing the first three days of the week, dispersing candy canes and other presents.

"How it works is, it doesn't matter who you are or who you're shopping for. Everybody gets to come in and pick out two presents," Zinckgraf said, adding that families with larger numbers of children may be able to come back at the end of the week for additional gifts.

More than anything at this crucial and charitable time of year, DASACC wants to ensure that those who need it have adequate housing and food security. The children's gifts serve as an extra source of goodwill toward the families struggling to meet these basic needs.

In talking about DASACC's yearlong mission, Zinckgraf also mentioned the organization's Wardrobe of Hope, a clothing boutique that is open to the public and, like the presents its Holiday Shoppe offers, completely free.

For more, visit dasacc.org.

The above post is sponsored by Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation, which supports the programs and services of the hospital. Donations to Children's Specialized Hospital Foundation go directly to helping pioneer new specialized care and serve more children in need. To help, or for more information: visit childrens-specialized.org; find Children's Specialized Hospital on Facebook, or follow on it on Twitter.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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