RUMSON: LEVITTOWN ON A TABLE TOP

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Debbie Bagnell and this year’s output of gingerbread cookie houses. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

PIEHOLE logoThis time every year, Rumson’s Debbie Bagnell becomes “the gingerbread house lady,” and her dining room table is transformed into a miniature Levittown of scrumptious little abodes.

How popular are her cookies at Holy Cross, the school her kids attend? So popular that former Saturday Night Live actress and borough resident Sioban Hogan performs a sketch that parodies the trials and tribulations of going through a year without access to Bagnell’s creations.

Follow the link to the story, only on PieHole, redbankgreen‘s totally awesome food page. And be sure to check out PieHole’s Facebook page or follow its Twitter feed @RedBankPieHole for up-to-the-minute postings.

FAIR HAVEN DOORS OPEN FOR SANDY VICTIMS

Among the homes on Friday’s tour is this one on Harvard Road. (Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

A holiday tradition and one of the key fundraisers for the Fair Haven School District, the Fair Haven PTA’s biennial house tour typically draws some 300 community members, with proceeds supporting the educational programs in the borough school system.

This year’s edition, though, is focused on Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Attendees at the event, which takes place Friday, are encouraged to donate new kitchen and household items, as well as gift cards to housewares stores, for those who lost their essentials in the storm.

“We thought it would be a unique way of supporting the hundreds of two-river area home owners who lost or sustained severe damage to their homes,” said tour co-chair Lauren Steets. “Most of us know at least one local family who is suffering now as a result of the storm, and we all want to help in some way.”

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BIGGER HOME TO FEED AND CLOTHE THE NEEDY

Lunch Break executive director Gwen Love, with back to camera, gets a hug after the zoning board vote. Below, plans show the expansion to the left of the existing building, which will get a rooftop vegetable garden. (Photo above by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

Red Bank soup kitchen Lunch Break won approval Thursday night for an expansion that will give it some long-overdue breathing room at its packed facility on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, officials said.

With unanimous approval by the borough zoning board, the nonprofit plans to knock down two houses adjacent to existing home and build a two-story, 2,100-square-foot expansion to house administrative offices, a clothing room, a food pantry, and rooms to provide other programs for those in need.

Currently, Lunch Break is operating in extremely cramped quarters, and because of that, “Not only are the volunteers and staff challenged every day, we are not providing the quality of service that we want to for our clients,” said executive director Gwendolyn Love.

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TWO HOUSES DONATED TO LUNCH BREAK

housesThe two properties adjoining Lunch Break, at right above, will be used to provide social services and clothing to the needy, if plans are approved. (Click to enlarge)

clothing

Space is tight at Lunch Break, the Red Bank soup kitchen.

Because of soaring demand for hot meals and canned goods, the need for pantry space has soared, too. Volunteers handling administrative duties share dining tables with clients who come for the meals. Every Saturday, bundles of clothing stored in the basement of the 25-year-old facility named for co-founder Norma Todd must be carted upstairs, out through a parking lot and back into the ground-floor dining room for distribution to clients in need.  When winter approaches, executive director Gwen Love has to clear out of her cramped office so clients can get flu shots in private.

The space shortage is more than just an inconvenience. It impinges on Lunch Break’s mission, says Love: to deliver services to those in need with a measure of dignity and respect.

So the recent donation of two houses adjoining Lunch Break’s home at 121 on Drs. James Parker Boulevard, just as the organization was about to embark on a search for additional space, was something of a “miracle,” says Love.

“Every now and then, it rains down blessings,” she tells redbankgreen.

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JON STEWART GOES FOR TWO ON NAVESINK

stewart_1024Jon Stewart’s riverfront houses on Alston Court, left, and Fisher Place, right, represent a combined $7 million investment in Red Bank, not counting major renovations now underway on one house. (Click to enlarge)

jon-stewart-coverJon Stewart has doubled down on Red Bank.

The host of Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show,” who quietly paid $3.8 million for a riverfront home on Alston Court late last year, has supplemented that buy with the equally hush-hush purchase of the adjoining property one lot to the west, on Fisher Place, redbankgreen has learned.

Property records show Stewart, through an entity called Red Bank River Trust, paid $3.2 million in June for the second property, the former home of Kerri and Pat McGeehan. P.J. Rotchford, manager of the Gloria Nilson Realtors office in Rumson, which was involved in the transaction, confirmed that the trust is Stewart’s.

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4 SALE: HOUSE WHERE ‘BORN’ WAS BORN

springsteenThe West End cottage where Bruce Springsteen — seen above outside the Count Basie Theatre in 2008 —  wrote ‘Born to Run’ is for sale.

Rbo_3bIt’s tiny little shotgun-style cottage near the beach where a hungry young Bruce Springsteen wrote his career-making third LP, ‘Born to Run.’

Now, a fan with a hungry heart — and a spare $299,000 — can lay claim to the deed.

The storied cottage in the West End section of Long Branch where Springsteen wrote ‘Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Backstreets” is up for sale.

redbankgreen‘s sibling site, Red Bank oRBit, has the exclusive details.