Steve and Gina Harbaugh were just trying to have fun. For years now, around Christmas time, they’ve been going out of their way to decorate their Gloucester County home. Not just the same way Clark Griswold did in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but their home practically becomes National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. They not only have a ridiculous amount of lights just like Clark Griswold, they have screens depicting the movie. Like a motorhome with a cousin Eddie replica emptying it out, well, let’s just call it rigs.
Back during the holidays, they were once again huge with toys donated by the thousands for underprivileged families. But they had so many cash donations that they did something really special this year.
Meet Noreen Owens and her seven children. She went through hard times and was homeless. For a while she stayed with the children at her sister’s house. She also took refuge with her mother. But then it was several months that she and the children had to live in a homeless hotel in Mount Ephraim. Meanwhile, Steve and Gina had not only collected 12,000 toys donated by so many people who came to see their Christmas exhibit, they also raised a lot of money from ordinary people as well as corporate donations. Steve wanted to do something for a special family this year, and people recommended Noreen Owens and her kids.
Now they have a house with all the bills paid for a year thanks to everyone’s generosity. They are on the happy moon. Noreen says it was the miracle she was waiting for. Steve credits all donors and not himself. He told NJ.com he was just “a crazy idiot who turned on a bunch of lights.”
Even though she wasn’t very lucky, while in this Mount Ephraim hotel, Noreen also empathized with all the other homeless families. Now she and Steve are working together to bring Christmas toys to these children.
What will next year bring to the Griswold house for Mickleton? Well, it’s gotten so big that the Harbaughs are moving to a larger rural lot where they plan to set up what will look like a German Christmas Village. Hopefully, Cousin Eddie’s motorhome has a place somewhere in this world.
The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. All opinions expressed are those of Jeff Deminski.