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  • Keyaira Boone

Urban Girl Mag and Newark Creatives Support St. Rocco's Shelter

When Desiree Hadley started to prepare for this holiday season she had more in mind than presents for her family and friends. The lifelong Newark resident and founder of Urban Girl Magazine wanted to find a way to help her city. A single mother herself, she focused her efforts on the plight of the women at South 7th Street’s St. Rocco’s Family Residence, an emergency shelter offering a safe haven and resources to women with children.

She first connected with St. Rocco’s in 2015 when looking for a place to donate for a toy drive sponsored by her day job as an office administrator. “They were very open to accepting any donations and just the smiles on those kids faces, how happy and grateful they were, it touched me. It’s stayed with me since then. It was like two years ago but it stayed with me.”

When she decided to give back she felt she had no other options but to return to the place that had captured her heart “I knew if I did a toy drive it would have to be there.”

Newark, like many other urban areas, has a staggeringly high rate of homelessness with many parents feeling ashamed of their inability to provide.

“I know the burden that some moms can feel arounds the holiday season” said Hadley “You really want to make that day special for them. I can only imagine the stress that a woman who is homeless must feel at this time of year. I wanted to alleviate some of that stress and that pressure.”

Hadley reached out to her network of New Jersey based creatives and got to work finding a way to help those who “don’t have that financial blanket to purchase everything their kid wants this holiday season.”

Mommy blogger Esmay “Mommy May” Richmond, media personality Evan "The Show” Spaulding, digital influencer Christina “Chris Miss” Bright, Push28 TV, Link New Jersey, Them Cloud Kids, Rana Campbell of Dreams in Drive, The C Letter and the 3 Ps in a Pod podcast all worked together to collect donations and distribute information on how their supporters could help Newark families.

Hadley was adamant about making a statement with her choice of collaborators.

“It was important for me to bring other creatives on board. Newark is thriving with arts and culture and millennials that are doing things. I wanted to show that we care about our community just as much as the older generations, maybe even more. We do care. We want to give. It’s a huge explosion of creative power coming out of Newark and we care about our community and we want to give back.”

Soon they were working together to spread the word while Hadley solicited local business owners to support the cause by becoming drop-off locations for the first annual Newark Creatives Toy & Coat Drive.

Newark’s Off The Hanger Boutique, and Bella Nail Lounge were joined by newcomer to the business community luxury extension emporium Hair So Fab in becoming official sites for donations. Soon the artist showcase Vibes in The City came on board collecting donations every Wednesday at La Rouge Lounge where they’ve had a residency for nearly two years and spreading the message through their social channels.

Hadley has found this whole experience a wonderful teaching opportunity for her daughter who she describes as already being “selfless.” The eight year old has been doing her part suggesting places where can they can put up together flyers and telling her teachers to get them to contribute.

“She’s very much aware of what’s going on and is open to helping” said Hadley who taught her “You have to be loving and care about others because there’s always someone who could use a helping hand.”

It's clear that this Brick City mom is down to practice what she preaches.

To learn more about Hadley and Urban Girl Magazine check out her recent appearance on the 3 Ps in a Pod Podcast. To learn more about St. Roccos or if you or a loved one are in need of a helping hand check here.

For most the holidays are a time to revel in good times and gifts and but for others they are a glaring reminder of what they are without. Please consider joining us with a new toy or gently used coat this Wednesday at Vibes in The City located at La Rouge Lounge or visit one of the drop off locations below.

#philanthrophy #civics #givingback #toydrive #coatdrive #christmas #holiday #UrbanGirlMag #vibesinthecity #3PsinaPod #DreamsinDrive #LinkNewJersey #EvanTheShow

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