NJ Griswold Christmas house finds place for homeless family
Steve and Gina Harbaugh were just trying to have some fun. For years now at Christmas time they go all out with decorating their Gloucester County home. Not just the same way Clark Griswold did in the movie National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but their house practically becomes National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. They not only have a ridiculous amount of lights just like Clark Griswold, they have displays representing the movie. Such as an RV with a cousin Eddie replica emptying out the, well, let’s just call it facilities.
Back at the holidays they came through huge once again with donated toys by the thousands for underprivileged families. But they had so much in the way of cash donations that they’ve done something truly special this year.
Meet Noreen Owens and her seven kids. She fell on hard times and was homeless. For a while she stayed with the kids at her sister's home. She also took refuge at her mother's. But then there were the several months she and the kids had to live in a hotel for homeless people in Mount Ephraim. Steve and Gina meanwhile had not only collected 12,000 toys donated by so many who came by to see their Christmas display, they also raised a lot of money from regular folks as well as corporate donations. Steve wanted to do something for a special family this year, and people recommended Noreen Owens and her kids.
Now they have a home with all bills paid for a year thanks to everyone's generosity. They are over the moon happy. Noreen says it was the miracle she was waiting for. Steve meanwhile credits all the donors and not himself. He told NJ.com he's just "an idiot crazy guy who put a bunch of lights up."
Even though she was so down on her luck, while at that hotel in Mt. Ephraim Noreen had empathy for all the other homeless families as well. Now she and Steve are working together to bring Christmas toys to those kids.
What will next year bring as far as the Griswold house in Mickleton? Well it's gotten so big that the Harbaughs are moving locations to a bigger piece of rural land where they plan on putting up what will resemble a German Christmas village. Hopefully cousin Eddie's RV will have a place somewhere in this world.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.