Gifts from Granny and Papa

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:44

BYRAM — Byram resident Erin Braun started a holiday benefit drive this year in memory of her parents called Gifts from Granny and Papa. Braun lost her father in April of 1994, 10 days before her wedding. She lost her mother in September of 2000, three weeks after her son was born. "The holidays have just not been the same,” said Braun, who turned 40 in October. She said she decided to make this year one of positive change. Braun reached out to friend Brian McNeilly and asked for his advice. Mcneilly helped Braun work with local food pantries and Sussex and Morris County families in need. Braun's holiday drive also benefited the Domestic Abuse & Sexual Assault Intervention Services (DASI) and Ginny’s House. Gifts from Granny and Papa Holiday Drive on Dec. 4 drew over 100 people, brought in over 80 toys, $680 worth of food, and bins and bags filled with personal hygiene items. The event was held at the Stanhope American Legion. About 40 toys were donated to Ginny’s House in Newton, 40 toys and $350 in food cards were donated to Byram families in need and the remaining food cards were donated to the First Presbyterian Church food pantry. All of the personal hygiene items, pillows, sheets and slippers were donated to DASI for the local shelters. Local restaurants, including Anet's Pub, Village Saloon, Shakey Jakes, Ted’s Deli, Salt and Bella Italia, along with friends, donated trays of food and refreshments for the benefit. Braun said without that support the benefit would not have been so successful. She also said she wants to make the benefit an annual event to help other. The giving doesn't stop during the Holidays, Erin will be accepting donations for DASI, Ginny's House , and local familes in need year round. Braun's son Alex is a loyal shavee for the St. Baldrick’s Event to raise money for kids with cancer. Braun has worked with NJ AIDS Services performing at the Morristown Theater to raise money for AIDS awareness and has been involved with Make a Wish Golf Outings. Braun said she wanted to start a benefit that would not only keep the spirit of her parents memory with her and her family during the holidays, but would also help her community.