Give Into the Yuletide Spirit With 2019's Stocking For A Cause

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In a recent Army News Service article, a boy, whose father suffered severely debilitating injuries while on his 10th Army deployment, stated, "While Americans are grateful for the sacrifices service members make for our country, it's the sacrifices they don't see that are the hardest.” This statement hits home and truly emotes why Rockaway local, Eugene Brennan, together with In Good Company Hospitality  group (IGC) are back at it with Stockings For A Cause (SFC), to make the holidays memorable for an American Army hero. Last year, Brennan was able to raise $40K, of which 100% of the proceeds went to a veteran in need, and this year, he’s set a goal of $50K to help U.S. Army Sergeant Kristian Cedeno, a proud Queens-born infantryman, who despite his excruciating injuries, refused to resign his post, because serving his country is his duty.

Since 2011, Brennan, an FDNY firefighter serving in Ladder 35 in upper Manhattan, also managing partner of Manhattan’s Park Avenue Tavern, operated by IGC, the team behind other noteworthy NYC venues, including Bungalow Bar, has steadfastly ran the nine-year running fundraiser, Stockings For A Cause. The event has quickly grown, from raising $5K in the first year, to $40K last year.

Each year, at several bars and restaurants, any customer that donates $20 has their name put on a stocking, which is hung in the establishment during the holiday season. (Plus folks are welcomed to donate even higher! Last year, NY Knicks Coach David Fizdale, bought a stocking for $5K!) The fundraiser kicks off on Thanksgiving Eve, November 27, and continues through Christmas. And this year, interested donators can even scan a barcode connecting to the online GoFundMe platform (www.gofundme.com/f/stockings-for-a-cause-2019) to make their $20 donation. (See the accompanying ad below). All donations will be offset as a tax write-off through local nonprofit, The Graybeards. Last year, roughly 20 establishments participated, and 25 are on board this year, including: Jamesons, Bungalow Bar, Pico RBNY, The Wharf and Harbor Light. Local establishments interested in joining in on the cause should email: Brennan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Last year’s honoree was Sergeant First Class (SFC) Mark Holbert, who after his fourth deployment to Afghanistan, was severely injured by an IED (improvised explosive device), which left the Green Beret a double amputee with a missing thumb and finger, along with nerve damage up his arms, and both legs gone below the knee. With the proceeds, SFC was able to outfit the home Holbert shares with his wife and children with smart technology.

When asked why Cedeno was selected as 2019’s honoree, Brennan said, “My brother-in-law knew him through his firehouse in Richmond Hill, Queens, and when Kris was serving in Afghanistan, he wore the firehouse engine and ladder company’s patch. Bringing it back to Queens this year was important as Kris is a Queens boy.”

Cedeno, despite losing half his right leg after stepping on a 15-pound IED; suffering severe burns, nerve damage and infection throughout his left leg, traumatic brain injury, shattered teeth, dislocated jaw, ruptured ear drums, fractured six fingers and both palms, a broken nose, damage to his left eye and injury from shrapnel in various places of his body, is still admirably fighting to be active in the Army. “Kris could have settled for medical leave and receive a good sum of money, but instead decided to stay active and just get his regular Army standard salary, which as we all know, these guys don’t make that much money. Obviously, every little bit helps, especially with him and his wife having a newborn baby. Hopefully, with this year’s fundraiser, we can offset some of these expenses for him and his family.”

On Saturday, December 7, 1:30 p.m., Brennan with local, Joseph O’Grady, will be guest bartending at Jamesons to help with the fundraising effort. “Joe is a proud supporter and member of the Graybeards, who always gets people out. The more people, the merrier,” Brennan said.

When asked why he is so dedicated to keep SFC going, Brennan said, “Why not? With all the people that are willing to help by giving to a complete stranger, who has honorably served our country, it’s the least I can do. Plus with the help from IGC and the neighborhood, and all the local bars, many hands make less work. We’re just looking forward to presenting Kris and his family with a check at the upcoming Graybeards Annual Dinner. That alone is thanks enough.”

For more info, check out Stockings For A Cause on Instagram.

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