‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, when all through the bar, all the creatures were stirring, reuniting from near and far. The stockings for a cause were hung with care, as customers donated their fair share.
It’s that time of year again, the season of giving, and local bars and restaurants are encouraging customers to participate in Stockings for a Cause. For the fifth year in a row, local Eugene Brennan, owner of the Park Avenue Tavern, is orchestrating this festive fundraiser to brighten a wounded warrior’s holiday.
Each year, several bars and restaurants hang Stockings for a Cause. Any customer that donates $20 has their name put on a stocking, which is hung somewhere in the establishment for the holiday season. The tradition starts on Thanksgiving Eve and continues through Christmas.
“This started five years ago in my restaurant when we wanted to decorate the bar. We thought of hanging stockings and getting our customers involved by putting their names on them. With all the bad going on in the world, we thought we could do a little good in Park Avenue by having people donate $20 per stocking and having the money go to one wounded warrior each year,” Brennan said. Each year, Brennan selects one person to benefit as opposed to a charity. “I thought it would be a great way to impact one person. There’s a lot of great charities out there but they have a lot salaries and other engines attached to them. This is a very tangible cause. It’s a way for us to brighten up an individual’s spirits when they need it most.”
This year that warrior in need is Brandon Myers. Myers, 22, joined the Navy three years ago, but wanted to do more. “He felt he had a higher calling and decided to become a Navy Seal,” Brennan said. “While in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training (BUDS), and moving up through the elite part of the class he took a turn for the worst and fell during one of the obstacle courses. During this fall he broke one of his vertebrae and is now paralyzed from the waist down. He fought to remain part of the Seal community for 12 months even with his limited capacity.” Brennan learned of Myers’ story through a friend in San Diego who is a retired Navy Seal. “Brandon’s very excited, but he’s very humbled and almost feels like he doesn’t deserve it because it didn’t happen while overseas but I think there is no one more deserving than this warrior this year,” Brennan said.
Brennan has set out with a goal of $50,000 for Myers, which would be the most money ever raised for Stockings for a Cause. The big goal may be easily attainable as Stockings for a Cause has grown into a widespread mission. The original effort started at Brennan’s Park Avenue Tavern, but soon spread to other In Good Company establishments including Rockaway’s Bungalow Bar. Now, all business or groups are encouraged to join. So far the local participating establishments include Bungalow Bar, Jameson’s and the Sugar Bowl and Kennedy’s in Breezy Point. But the effort goes far beyond the peninsula. “I’m really excited to hit the ground running and make Brandon’s Christmas great. This year we have bars from the tip of the peninsula to Manhattan and even San Diego. We’re pushing close to 50 bars and I think this is really going to take off. With the right help and social media, this is going to go somewhere big and I’m very excited,” Brennan said.