The Giving Network began in 1999 after Hurricane Floyd flooded the homes of our neighbors in Bound Brook and Manville, New Jersey and left hundreds of families in need of basic household items. Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills came together to collect excess household items from their homes and from their neighbors’ homes. These items were sorted, packaged per specific requests, and delivered to Somerset County residents as they returned to their homes or relocated to other apartments. During this ‘temporary’ helping period, the Giving Network came to realize how many people live in need daily in one of the most affluent counties in America. Those early Giving Network volunteers decided to continue their operations in order to make a difference in lives on an on-going basis.
The Giving Network is a volunteer-run, volunteer-driven program that achieves its objectives by working with other organizations, social service agencies, churches, and businesses. The Giving Network serves area families from a diverse tapestry of faith, demographics, and need. Our service is unique in that, without a warehouse, the Giving Network picks up items from our donors and delivers them directly to our recipients.
Originally an outreach program of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Somerset Hills, the Giving Network is now an independent organization with its own 501 (c ),(3 ) designation, although the ties with UUCSH remain close.
During 2012, over 50 volunteers participated in Giving Network activities. Despite a bare-bones annual budget of less than $20K (mostly for operating a small sorting center and for fuel and insurance of our two vans), the Giving Network was able to make over 1500 pickups/deliveries of goods. Volunteers donated more than 4500 hours and drove more than 18,000 miles in support of Giving Network operations.