Margate candy store recognized for Wounded Warriors contribution

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 iCandy owner Jan Staller with Wounded Warrior peer mentor Ed Afanador and his service dog, Arnie. iCandy owner Jan Staller with Wounded Warrior peer mentor Ed Afanador and his service dog, Arnie.

MARGATE – When it rains, it pours.

To put it mildly, the past 12 months have presented enormous emotional and financial obstacles for Jan and Len Staller, owners of the iCandy store, 9401 Ventnor Ave.

Nonetheless, they didn’t hesitate when called upon, again, in October to donate 22 gift bags of confections for Wounded Warriors that were guests of Tropicana Casino and Resort and in town for a golf outing fundraiser at McCullough’s Emerald Links Golf Course.

“It has been a tough year,” said Jan Staller when she was asked to repeat last year’s gesture, “ But how can I say ‘no’ to Wounded Warriors?”

In September 2012 Len Staller, a 22-year employee, was blindsided when the Atlantic County urologist he had worked for sold the business. Staller received no prior notice and wasn’t offered any severance pay.

Two weeks later, their family home was burglarized and Jan Staller was robbed of all the heirloom jewelry that was her prized possession from her mother’s and sister’s estates.

With expenses piling up, the iCandy owners decided to delay renewing their flood insurance until the spring.

 Hurricane Sandy’s Oct. 25, 2012 arrival added to their misery.

 The punishing storm wiped out all of the assets of the three iCandy locations (at the time they were operating two stores in Ocean City) and left them without a livelihood.

The iCandy owners summoned all of their reserves and embarked on the monumental task of cleaning up the debris, gutting the Ventnor Avenue store and rebuilding  it on their own.  Their savings was spent on refurbishing the Margate location, forgoing the other stores.

The fall and winter months have been a struggle for the business which relies on the support of local residents to purchase their confections.

Nevertheless, when Jan Staller heard on the Harry Hurley radio show that the Longport American Legion Post 459 was providing a week’s vacation for a wounded warrior and his wife who never had a honeymoon, she picked up the phone and offered to make them a large anniversary basket for their arrival.

She is just that sweet and thoughtful.

For iCandy’s continuing support of the men and women of our nation’s military, many who have paid a high price for protecting our freedom, the New Jersey Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) recognized the Margate merchant with the Seven Seals Award.

ESGR is a Department of Defense, mostly volunteer organization that seeks to create a culture where all American employers value the military service and sacrifice of their employees. They recognize outstanding support, increase awareness of the law, and resolve conflicts through mediation.

The program also honors businesses such as iCandy for the support that they offer our veterans and wounded warriors who have sacrificed so much for their country.

Despite their own struggles, iCandy exemplifies the concept of “employer patriots” and the ESGR motto that, “We all serve.”

Donna Clementoni is director of employer outreach for the New Jersey Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. 

 Margate candy store recognized for Wounded Warriors contribution Margate candy store recognized for Wounded Warriors contribution

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