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Advent Extravaganza Spreads Seasonal Joy

Volunteers at Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church wrap about 900 gifts for those in need and also make Christmas crafts for themselves.

The Liberty Corner Presbyterian Church's annual Advent Extravaganza always is an event where participants wrap hundreds of gifts for needy families, sample treats prepared by local families and make Christmas crafts that they can bring home to decorate their own homes.

All that was going on this Sunday at this year's Advent Extravaganza. But along with the usual festivities, Pastor Anne Havrilla said the event has a little extra meaning this December.

"This year our focus at Liberty Corner is on hope. We feel that after the storm and all we came through, hope is the most important gift of all," Havrilla said as she stood near a neat line of totes filled with gifts that will go to the Good News Home for Women in Flemington.

About 900 gifts were wrapped this year, said Bonnie Frey of Warren, who organizes the church's Giving Tree, from which people select a gift to give.

All donations from any sources will be given to multiple "mission partners" with the church, including the Newark Christian School and the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Somerset County, the organizers said.

The event also is a day for families to come and get into the Christmas spirit by making decorations — including the day's namesake Advent wreath — and enjoying goodies. There were plenty of cookies baked by church volunteers and room for kids to mingle as well as pitch in.

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