Traditionally, the holidays of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza ring in a season of giving at the end of each year.
In Atlantic City, Ocean Resort casino hotel launched an inaugural “Season of Giving” charitable campaign, which began in November and continues through December.
Officials said the campaign was created because giving was needed in Atlantic City, NJ, where families and the non-profits that serve them during the holidays were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ocean’s program will provide $40,000 in gifts and monetary donations to more than a dozen southern NJ non-profit organizations before the end of 2021. And the reason behind it all is to give back to the community, Ocean officials said.
“As Ocean builds on its success and continues to reinvest in our casino resort, we are equally committed to investing in the local community in which we thrive,” said Kelly Burke, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer.
Ocean Resort’s Season Of Giving
Some of Ocean’s ideas to raise money are creative, like the Festival of Lights at Makai restaurant through Dec. 6. Purchases from a special Hanukkah menu mean cash donations to Jewish Family Services from Ocean and Ketel One Family Made Vodka.
While other ideas are inclusive. In support of the resort’s LGBTQ guests, friends, and allies, Ocean and Aperol are matching monetary donations to The Trevor Project – the world’s largest LGBTQ suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ teens.
Actor Anthony Wilkinson hosts Ocean Pride Happy Hour at the Blush Bar and Lounge from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Dec. 17.
Still more ideas are simplistic, like a $1,500 donation of non-perishable food during December to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, which serves 600 meals per day.
AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City will get new toys, books, and lap blankets for patients of the hospital’s pediatric unit. The AVANZAR Center will get donations of tote and toiletry bags, toiletries, socks, and hats.
Everyone Gets Involved
Ocean is sponsoring a “Giving Tree” for the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City. The tree displays tags with a club child’s name along with their wish, as Ocean employees and managers can pick and return unwrapped gifts.
Throughout December, Ocean team members are collecting winter clothing and baby formula for Adelaide’s Place, Atlantic City Rescue Mission, and The Covenant House.
Even Ocean Vice President Chris O’Connor stepped up. O’Connor participated in The Covenant House of New Jersey annual Atlantic City Sleep Out in solidarity with youth facing homelessness, raising over $11,000 to sleep out in his backyard.
Ocean’s guests also can get involved in giving through Jan. 1, 2022, if they visit the 1927 Lounge and the Jingle Bell Bar: A Holiday Pop-up Experience. Bar purchases turn into donations to Atlantic County Toys for Kids. Visitors get complimentary entry Dec. 18 to the HQ2 Nightclub at Ocean if they bring a toy donation.
Just days before Christmas, Ocean staff plan to hand out wireless speakers and headphones for teens living at The Covenant House in Atlantic City. They’ll also get a holiday luncheon Dec. 22.
It wasn’t just the holidays when donations counted. In November, Ocean donated 75 $20 ShopRite gift cards for recipients at The Community Food Bank of New Jersey to purchase a holiday turkey or ham.
So far in 2021, Ocean donated $14,000 each to four Atlantic City area charities through its “Change for Change” initiative for a total of $56,000. Donations went to: The Hansen Foundation, The ARC of Atlantic County, Earth Angels for Dementia, and Leaders in Training.
Money was raised by casino guests through Ocean Cares by depositing their change slips in a casino floor box as charitable contributions to the local community.
Atlantic City Casinos Challenged By COVID
Without a doubt, there is a need for donations in 2021. The giving campaign at Ocean comes the year after the COVID-19 pandemic shut casino and hotel doors in Atlantic City last year.
In 2020, non-profit organizations that relied on assistance saw a drop in donations for the holidays. Casino properties in Atlantic City also saw 2020 earnings fall when COVID-19 forced all casinos to close their doors on March 16 until July 1.
Ocean Resort felt the pinch, too. In Oct. 2021, Ocean Resort reported a total gaming win of $30,133,1191, compared to a total gaming win of $25,184,161 reported in Oct. 2020.
But many south Jersey employees remain out of work for the 2021 holiday season. Some children can’t attend school in person. Some hospitals are at capacity with COVID-19 patients.
Ocean said it realized the need to help community non-profit organizations that support families is greater than ever this year.
“By contributing to a variety of organizations, we are extending Ocean’s reach to impact multiple causes of community concern – including food security, homelessness, youth support, education, family services, health and wellness, among others,” Burke said.
(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)