More than three dozen Sussex County charities shared more than $100,000 in donations from the German Christmas Market of New Jersey at its annual Give Back Event on March 12.
The gifts to 38 charities will mean the German Christmas Market, a nonprofit organization led and staffed by Sussex County volunteers, will have donated $490,000 to county charities since its founding in 2001.
Although individual donations are kept confidential, the total distribution of $102,850 is a record amount, Sabine Watson, committee president, told about 70 people gathered at the Sussex County Fairgrounds.
The previous high, $72,600, was generated by the Christmas Market of 2021, the first year that the event was held at the fairgrounds.
The three-day event in December 2022 drew more than 22,000 people.
This was the first year with an entrance fee to offset the market’s increasing costs, which ensured donations to local charities would be maintained, Watson said.
“2022 as a year of improvement for us, based on lessons learned in our first year at the fairgrounds.”
Changes included a better layout for easier visitor flow; increased vendor spaces, particularly around food trucks; hiring a management team for parking; increased security; and more activities for children, including Mrs. Claus.
The value of experiences offered at the recent market was well worth the cost of admission, she said, thanking the many supporters of the market, including fairgrounds management and staff, the 150 vendors, Frankford Township, the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office and State Police.
She expressed special thanks to the event’s many generous sponsors, who are recognized on the market website at www.germanchristmasmarketnj.org
If measured by level of donations given back to the community, the success of the German Christmas Market has exceeded the wildest dreams of committee members since the move to the fairgrounds.
For the three years from 2017 through 2019, the market generated average total annual donations of $35,500.
The committee’s funding guidelines state that it “supports charitable organizations that enhance the quality of life in Sussex County.” “This includes nonprofit organizations that provide programs or services in the areas of nutrition, health and safety advocacy, and education.”
Charities and nonprofit organizations that previously received a donation and did so again this year were Birth Haven, Connect for Community, DASI, Family Promise of Sussex County, Ginnie’s House, Girls on the Run, Karen Anne Quinlan Memorial Foundation, Manna House, Market Street Mission-Sussex County, Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Norwescap, Pass It Along, Samaritan Inn, SCARC, Sojihuggles Children’s Foundation, Sparta Board of Education-German Department, Sparta Community Food Pantry, Sparta Elks, Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council, Sussex County Habitat for Humanity, Sussex County YMCA and United Way of Northern New Jersey.
Four nonprofit organizations receiving donations this year for the first time are 4-HRhapsody in Color, New Sussex Symphony, Center for Prevention and Counseling, and Winter4Kids.
Nonprofit organizations receiving donations for in-kind services at the market were Blue Ridge Rescue Squad, Civil Air Patrol Cadets, Sussex County Technical School, Mrs. Claus (donation to Benny’s Bodega), Branchville Rotary (pretzel sales staffing), Newton Rotary (use of building for Glühwein/beer sales), Branchville Boy Scouts (use of building patio for food vendor), Knights of Columbus (use of building for Glühwein/beer sales) and Wantage Excavators (donation to Veritas Academy).
Most notable for services are Pope John High School, Centenary University softball team and High Point High School, all for parking lot assistance.
Watson stressed that the German Christmas Market requires the help of many volunteers to be a true success.
Signups will be open in mid-September for volunteers to assist during the set-up week before the event, during the market Dec. 1-3, and for a day or so afterward.
Planning and preparing for the market is a year-round effort and anyone interested in helping may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to www.germanchristmasmarketnj.org