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The Mercy House’s Heartfelt Mother’s Day: 600+ Gift Bags for Moms in Need



The Mercy House, a resource and referral center operated by the Archdiocese of Newark, is gearing up for its largest Mother’s Day Giveaway yet. Across its locations in Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Newark, over 600 gift bags will be distributed to mothers in need. Each bag will contain costume jewelry, beauty products, and other donated items.

The giveaway will span three days, with Elizabeth hosting on May 8, Jersey City on May 9, and Newark on May 10 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Expecting a significant turnout, The Mercy House aims to provide at least one gift bag of costume jewelry to each visiting mother. Additionally, most moms will receive a second bag filled with items like cosmetics, body washes, moisturizers, and chocolates.

“This event is our way of showing appreciation to the many mothers who visit The Mercy House who always put their children first,” said Cheryl A. Riley, director of The Mercy House, who explained many of the mothers served at the resource and referral center are single parents. “They’re not pampering themselves because their focus is to make sure their kids have the essentials.  For Mother’s Day, we’re treating the moms with gifts they will enjoy. Most of all, we want to show them love and recognition for their sacrifice in ensuring their children have a better life.”

This year’s giveaway was made possible thanks to the generous support of various donors backing The Mercy House. Among them is a notable contributor who provided thousands of pieces of costume jewelry, which the Felician Sisters of Lodi later collected into over 300 gift bags. Additionally, two Mary Kay consultants gave approximately 100 bags of their company’s cosmetics.  And the Salt & Light Ministry at St. Michael Parish in Cranford, which assists people in need, supplied about 30 bags of toiletries.

“At The Mercy House, we regularly provide people with essentials like food and clothes, but it’s also important for us to lift people’s spirits through events like this,” said Annette Miller, The Mercy House’s associate director who coordinated donation efforts for the giveaway. “Everyone deserves to feel special, and that’s why we do the Mother’s Day Giveaway every year. It feels great seeing the moms’ faces light up when they get their gift bags.”

Following the Mother’s Day Giveaway, The Mercy House plans to host its first major giveaway for Father’s Day in June. Then, in August, it will host its first Italian Ice party during which families can also pick up free school supplies for the coming academic year. The Mercy House’s annual Thanksgiving and Christmas giveaways will close out 2024 in November and December, respectively.

Founded in 2018, The Mercy House provides nonperishable food, clothing, baby supplies, furniture, and help finding work and housing to anyone in need. Its three locations in Newark, Jersey City, and Elizabeth each serve roughly 300 people every week.

If you would like to volunteer or make a donation — financial contributions are especially appreciated — contact Cheryl A. Riley at For more information, visit