Holiday help keeps Matt’s memory alive

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Matt Lassor

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – April Lassor hasn’t forgotten when her son, Matt, donated more than $100 in birthday money so the Nazarene church bell choir could get more sheet music.

The compassion Matt shared so many years ago lives on as part of an annual gift drive for less fortunate children – one that bears his name.

The Matt’s Stocking nonprofit organization is in remembrance of Matt Lassor, who died after a car crash along the Garden State Parkway in Middle Township in 1997. He was 12.

The gift-giving effort makes sure area kids up to 18 years old have presents for Christmas.

“This ministry is just appropriate. He was so giving,” said his mother, April Lassor, who lives in Cape May Court House.

The idea for Matt’s Stocking came as Matt’s Christmas stocking was found among the holiday decorations.

It would be the family’s first Christmas without their 12-year-old son. The family decided to help a child at the Seashore Community Church of the Nazarene, she said.

In 1998, the ministry officially kicked off. Adults were included on the gift wish list as were children. The focus then turned to just children, Lassor said.

This year, gifts will be wrapped Dec. 13 and delivered the week of Dec. 16.

About 115 families have been served each year through Matt’s Stocking since 1999 or 2000, according to Lassor.

“It amazes me every year,” she said.

Lassor said Matt’s Stocking is a community effort.

“I could never do what gets done” on her own, she said.

Middle Township High School students and staff take part in the ministry.

Students get excited over being able to pick out gifts for others, said Maria Woodring, who is heading the effort at Middle’s high school. She is a family and consumer sciences teacher and a member of the Seashore Church of the Nazerene.

“It’s good to see that,” Woodring said.

Kenny Dale, 16, of Goshen, said he bought a make-up kit for a 7-year-old girl. This was his first time picking up a gift request at the high school and taking part in Matt’s Stocking. He said he plans do the project next year

As he shopped for the gift, he wondered if the girl would like the colors.

He said his friends prompted him to get involved in Matt’s Stocking.

“It’s the right thing to do,” the high school junior said.

Bible Club vice president Lara Colombo said she likes that Matt’s Stocking helps children and parents.

The high school senior purchased a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy.

She participated last year, and the18-year-old of Cape May Court House plans to join in a gift-giving effort when she heads off to Liberty University in Virginia next year.

Don Chew, who is a retired Middle Township high school math teacher, said he enjoys seeing students giving instead of receiving.

“It brings a whole new feeling to Christmas,” said Chew, who lives in Ocean View.

Woodring said about 30 Middle high school students are involved this year in Matt’s Stocking.

“I love to see them doing it,” she said.

Forty-four school district staff members have been part of the efforts, too.

“That’s awesome. We have staff that really gives no matter what it is,” Woodring said.

Also helping with Matt’s Stocking, including identifying families to help, were the Cape May County jail, Lower Township School District and area churches and businesses, Lassor said.

Lassor said she is grateful for and blessed by Matt’s Stocking.

She remembers Matt as outgoing and loving, and that he was a teacher’s worst nightmare but a coach’s dream.

Matt was involved in the Cape Express Soccer Club and attended Cape Christian Academy in Middle Township.

Chew called Matt’s Stocking as “a great, worthy cause.”

The gifts will be wrapped at the Seashore Community Church of the Nazarene in Lower Township, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13. Additional information is available by calling 886-6196.

For more information about Matt’s Stocking, contact Lassor at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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