Author offers ‘Christmas surprise’ for character, youngsters in need


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Larry Campanella is in the holiday spirit once again, fundraising for Toys for Tots with the release of his newest book, “Gavin’s Christmas Surprise.”
The story takes place in Burlington, Vermont, with the two main characters attending Champlain Elementary School in Burlington. A series of acts of kindness by a very caring family lead to a happy Christmas for Gavin and his family, after Gavin’s father lost his custodian job at a local high school.
“What inspired me most to write this book was my love of Christmas since I was a kid. Growing up, we always had special Christmas celebrations shared by family and close friends, from baking holiday cookies, homemade eggnog, special Christmas brunch and dinners, TV movies and holiday specials, and sing-a-longs at church. Christmas caroling in my neighborhood was also big with my friends beginning around 8 or 9 years of age. That carried into my adult life …” he said.
The 10-month project coordinated colored pictures from Blueberry Illustrations with text written on a second to third grade reading level.
Vermont was picked as the setting because of the picturesque winter scenery of Vermont, which is ideal for Christmas, and the fact that Campanella is familiar with Burlington as his older brother attended Champlain College.
“Incidentally, the principal called me from Champlain Elementary School requesting a couple of copies for her students which I obliged,” he said.
With connections to North Brunswick and South Brunswick, Campanella is a retired special education teacher for children in first grade through middle school, but also owned a gym for nine years in Point Pleasant and Manasquan and worked as a personal trainer for several decades. He won several bodybuilding titles including Mr. New Jersey Over 35, and most recently the Masters Sunshine Classic in West Palm Beach in 2016.
In years past, Campanella donated proceeds from his “Larry’s Healthy 21 Day Food Guide” and his CD “Golden Classics” to organizations such as Elijah’s Promise, the Salvation Army and Hurricane Wilma victims.
“Toys for Tots is my fundraiser for ‘Gavin’s Christmas Surprise’ as it is an organization that provides toys for kids at Christmas for those parents who cannot afford to buy presents. I really respect this organization founded by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. I thought this book would be a homerun for this type of organization as both my book and Toys for Tots are aimed at kids,” Campanella said.

To purchase the book, mail a check for $15 to Larry Campanella, 10 Bloomfield Ct., Dayton 08810. He will make a contribution to Toys for Tots for every person who donates. He will also hand deliver the book to anyone in the North Brunswick area for $12 per book. 

For more information, email Campanella at, or visit or YouTube under Larry the Christmas Junkie.

Contact Jennifer Amato at

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