AREA TOY DRIVES NEED YOUR HELP

The Red Bank PBA is running its annual toy drive at the police station. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

Calling all wannabe Santas – there’s no need to don a red suit to make a difference in a child’s life this holiday season. Just check out one of the many local toy drives that local businesses, legislators, and non-profits are pulling together to make sure that every child has a happy Chanukah or Christmas – especially those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Among them: Margaret Spicer, owner of Distinctive Toys in Fair Haven, knows the holiday season may not be a great one for her business, so she is channeling her efforts to help those in need. She’s banded together with the Knights of Columbus, Life Guard Ecumenical Foundation (LGEF), and Rebuild/Recover  to create “Sandy’s Toy Shoppe,” where affected parents can come and select new toys for their children.

The event comes together beginning Saturday in Eatontown.

According to Spicer, the toy drive is in full gear, with “thousands” of toys and games donated by vendors, friends, neighbors and strangers. She is still looking for toys from mass-market brands such as Hot Wheels, Legos, Barbie, and more. “If your child has it on their Christmas list,” that’s what they’re looking for, she said.

The haul is being stored at the warehouse of Grape Beginnings, a hands-on winery at 151 Industrial Way East in Eatontown. Parents are invited to come by from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with additional hours listed on the Sandy’s Toy Shoppe website.

Those who want to make a toy or monetary donation may drop it off at Distinctive Toys, 595 River Road, or call Spicer at 732-747-8080 for additional information.

Next up, Senator Jennifer Beck and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon have teamed up with Operation Jersey Shore Santa – an organization created to help families affected by the hurricane – and have set up a drop off location in Red Bank.

“So many families in our area were hit hard by Sandy,” Beck said in a prepared announcement. “We really wanted to help put some smiles on their faces during this tough time.”

Operation Jersey Shore Santa will be collecting gifts and donations through Saturday, December 15 at the legislator’s offices at 32 Monmouth Street, Red Bank, third floor. Call 732-933-1591 for more information.

The Red Bank PBA is also sponsoring its annual toy drive to spread holiday cheer. Their effort is a tradition going back more than a decade, according to PBA president, Patrolman George Travostino. Drop off an unwrapped gift by December 16 at Red Bank Police Headquarters, 90 Monmouth Street. For more information, contact Travostino at 732-530-2700.

This toy drive packs a twist. PBA members escort Santa Claus as he personally delivers gifts to children in Red Bank. The delivery is scheduled for December 21. In addition, any borough parent interested in having Santa personally deliver their child a present can drop the gift off, pre-wrapped, at the police department with the child’s name and address.

The Atlantic Club, located at 325 Maple Avenue, is also sponsoring a toy drive for hurricane Sandy victims. Visit here for a list of toys wanted or to sign up a child. Simply drop off your unwrapped toy at the front desk before December 17.

The Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe, at 17 White Street, is collecting unwrapped toys to be donated to Lunch Break now through December 9. As a thank you, RBCS is offering a 10-percent-off coupon for any toy donation.