NEPTUNE, N.J. -- The toys spilled from 4-foot-tall boxes dressed in brightly colored holiday wrapping: stuffed teddy bears, radio-controlled cars, transformers and dolls. Lots of dolls, especially one that cackled hysterically and kicked up her legs when you waved a hand near her chubby cheeks.
The Neptune Township Police Department partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a "Toys for Tots" campaign to benefit needy families in the greater Neptune community.
“The effort began in Neptune in 1981 when officers identified children living with their families in local motels. So what began as helping a few families has grown to where hundreds of families are helped each year,” said Lt. William Monroe, of the Neptune Township Police Department.
FEMA employees were deployed to New Jersey in early September at the request of Gov. Christie after Hurricane Irene, the second of four severe storms, slammed the state. As part of the disaster recovery outreach in local communities, FEMA contacted the police department and asked to partner in the toy campaign.
“People were so generous in their response,” said Rosemary Raises, who handles applications for FEMA Individual Assistance and helped coordinate the toy drive.
The holiday boxes were filled with traditional toys -- board games, PEZ dispensers, tractors, trucks, trains, basketballs and soccer balls -- and those with a nod to the technology age: digital keyboards, electronic guitars and cell phones.
“It’s above and beyond what we ever thought we would get ─ easily,” said Anthony Innes, the deputy branch director for FEMA Individual Assistance who coordinated the toy campaign. “It gives us a good feeling that we can contribute to making the holidays brighter for those who were impacted by Hurricane Irene and the current economic condition.”
The Neptune Township Police Department will accept donations for distribution through Monday, Dec. 19 at locations throughout the township.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.