Published: Tuesday, October 27, 2009, 7:02 AM
By Melissa Chin - The Star-Ledger
Tim McLoone is a 2009 New Jersey State Jefferson Awards recipient. He was nominated by Donald Pignataro, who wrote the following essay describing his service background.
Tim McLoone could best be described as a modern-day Renaissance Man. Schooled at Harvard and accomplished in music, athletics and business, he yearned to make a positive difference in the lives of those in need. In 1993, with the help of his musician friends, he founded Holiday Express, a volunteer, nonprofit and non-sectarian organization dedicated to bringing music, food, gifts and genuine friendship to the physically and mentally disabled, the homeless, those living with AIDS, and others in need during the holiday season.
For the past 16 years, a troupe of musicians and caring "elves" led by Tim travel to more than 50 locations between Thanksgiving and Christmas and create a holiday "event" for special individuals. Each event is a two-hour interactive, energized, entertaining party with people who live challenging lives in challenging environments. The clients say the Holiday Express party is the best day they have ever had in their lives because of the pure joy and excitement that exists before and after each visit.
Individual gift bags are an essential part of each event, which sadly may be the only gift they will receive during the holiday season. The warehouse elves work extremely hard to make sure all 15,000+ bags get packed, not only with loving care, but also with a substantial amount of practical necessities and useful, fun things. Heartwarming memories and personal relationships are formed between people who probably would never cross paths if it were not for Tim McLoone's desire to do something about the impartiality of misfortune.
The Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 by Sam Beard, Jacqueline Kennedy and Senator Robert Taft to honor people who do outstanding community service. The awards are presented on both the national and local levels. The recipients of the New Jersey State Jefferson Awards are ordinary people who, through public service and volunteerism efforts, do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward.
For several months prior to the event, The Star-Ledger accepted nominations from readers which were reviewed by a panel of judges. Winners from across the Garden State were chosen for their exceptional community service and acts of charity.