For the past 29 years Holiday Express, a New Jersey-based 501 c3 organization, has brought the gift of human kindness to thousands of people in need during the holiday season.

Holiday Express is made up of hundreds of local musicians and volunteers who throw holiday parties at facilities which are underserved especially during the holiday season. These places include soup kitchens, homeless shelters, developmental centers, addiction and recovery centers and many more.

Founded by restaurant entrepreneur, musician, and my friend, Tim McLoone, the work that Holiday Express does during the holiday season is nothing short of heroic.

At each event, the Holiday Express Band performs a holiday concert for about an hour. Musical numbers feature some well known holiday characters like The Grinch, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and of course, Santa Claus!

The appearance of Santa always brings smiles to those people who are sometimes forgotten during this time of year, but that’s not all he brings… Holiday Express also brings gift bags loaded with items such as a blanket, socks, gloves, hat, scarf and personal care products.

At many events, Holiday Express volunteers will also serve their clients a meal, either in the form of a hot meal donated by one of many local restaurants, or subs courtesy of Jersey Mike’s, a long time donor and supporter.

This year they are scheduled to do 100 shows in 50 days, an incredible undertaking. In order to continue their mission during the pandemic, they created a combination of live and virtual performances that will still ensure the spirit of Holiday Express continues.

Regardless, each one of their clients will still receive a signature Holiday Express gift bag with toiletries blankets, socks and other needed items. Organizing these 100 shows can be a nightmare but the passion and commitment to help those in need that has driven Holiday Express from its inception remains as strong today as it has ever been.

Holiday Express Clambake with Big Joe Henry 2016
9th annual Holiday Express Jess Frank/TSMNJ

I’ve been involved with Holiday Express in different capacities for over 25 years, and they are the real deal when it comes to providing holiday cheer to people who need it. The combination of music and volunteer interaction with clients truly defines the Holiday Express experience. To see the glowing smiles on the faces of those that are perhaps worn and downtrodden otherwise, is truly a heartwarming experience, and one that I’ll never forget.

Holiday Express depends on donations, benefit concerts, and a pair of fundraising events each year in order to fund their operations budget. I’m asking you to help them continue their mission this holiday season and give what you can.

The Vogel, new venue at Count Basie Center for the Arts (Count Basie Center for the Arts )
The Vogel, new venue at Count Basie Theater

They have two fundraising concerts in December at the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank. On either December 21st or 22nd, you can experience firsthand the music and spirit of Holiday Express, and your ticket purchase will directly fund their programs.

You can get your tickets online from the Count Basie Theater. I certainly know that times were very tough this year but if you can find a few extra bucks to help Holiday Express help others, I would greatly appreciate it.

For more information and to donate go to and as always thank you for your support

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Big Joe Henry. Any opinions expressed are Big Joe’s own.

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