By Michelle Gladden

Asbury Park resident Joanne Matthews makes a point to stop by the annual Spring

Lake-Brielle Rotary Club holiday giveaway at Kula Cafe on Springwood Avenue. A part

of Interfaith Neighbors social enterprise programs, Kula Cafe is an on the job

hospitality training program.

“I like coming here because they make it comfortable,” she said.

Shirley Grant, who stopped by to pick out items for her children, ages 5 to 15, agreed.

“I love it because there are a lot of people out there struggling and it’s nice to know

there’s a place to help you without judging,” she said.

Held Monday afternoon, the fourth annual giveaway event was done in collaboration

with the H W Mountz School in Spring Lake Lake, whose students donated 105 gifts as

part of their Giving Tree project, Rotary member Lesley Gasper said.

The annual giveaway event was born out of a brainstorming breakfast meeting aimed

at launching a holiday giveaway for those in need.

“The first thing we thought about was kids needing coats,” Rotary Club President Mary Donovan said. “We collected a lot of money and made a deal with Boscovs, where they

really reduced [the price of] the coats.”

The inaugural event spawned a now popular sock giveaway table, said Donovan who

recanted the memory of little boy who bypassed the toys to ask her if he could have

one of the three new socks she had on display.

“He sees there are two more pairs and says, ‘do you think I can have another pair,” she

said. “I said sure and then he said, do you think I can have the third pair.’ That is why

this entire table here is covered with socks.

Donovan said club members buy gloves, hats, socks, and other items throughout the


The Spring Lake-Brielle Rotary Club is comprised of 38 members who reside in Jersey

Shore communities from Spring Lake Heights to Brielle.

“We’re happy to be here,” said Bill Montanaro, who has played Santa all four years.

“It’s really nice that people donated these clothes and toys,” said Tommy Snider, the

club’s newest member.

Kula Cafe’s Tychelle Williams, I’Keera Watkins and Nashiem Frazier [at right] served as

Santa’s elves during the event.

The Spring Lake-Brielle Rotary club meets 7:30 to 8:30 am at Spring Lake Manor,

located at 415 Route 71. Their ongoing projects include food drives, participation with

the Wreaths Across America project, and scholarships.

[Photos, in part, courtesy of Nancy Shields of Interfaith Neighbors]