WITH THE holiday season underway, Ocean County officials are asking residents for help in providing new toys for families that may be going through difficult times this holiday season.
"We are encouraging our citizens to help those less fortunate by participating in the Ocean County Sheriff's Office Annual Toy Drive," said Ocean County Freeholder John P. Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "This drive has helped hundreds of families and children in past years and we want to do the same in 2019.
"With this annual toy drive, under the direction of Sheriff Michael Mastronardy, we have the opportunity to help bring a little holiday happiness into the lives of families that may be going through a difficult time," Kelly said.
Sheriff Mastronardy said the toy drive annually helps more than 400 families and provides toys to more than 1,300 children throughout the County. The drive collects new, unwrapped toys for children of all ages.
"We are again working with the Ocean County Police Chiefs Association and local police departments in order to make sure families that are in need are served by the program," Mastronardy said. "It's gratifying that so many people want to donate and help.
"This year the number of requests for toys has already surpassed last year," Mastronardy said. "We are hopeful through the generosity of our citizens we can help those who have signed up."
While toy distribution will start on Dec. 14, new and unwrapped toys can still be donated up until Dec. 18. Toys for children aged 10 and older are especially needed.
New and unwrapped toys can be dropped off at a number of locations throughout Ocean County including the Ocean County Clerk's Office, Ocean County Courthouse, 118 Washington St., Toms River; Ocean County One Stop Center, 1027 Hooper Ave., Building 2, Toms River; Ocean County Administration Building, 101 Hooper Ave., Toms River; Ocean County Southern Service Center, Routes 9 and 72, Manahawkin; County Connection, Ocean County Mall, JC Penney Wing, Hooper Avenue, Toms River and the Ocean County Training Center, Volunteer Way, Waretown.
Also, toy bins are at the following Ocean County Library branches: Barnegat Township branch, 112 Burr St., Barnegat; Brick Township Branch, 301 Chambers Bridge Road, Brick; Lacey Township Branch, 10 East Lacey Road, Forked River; Manchester Township Branch, 21 Colonial Drive, Manchester; Upper Shores Branch, 112 Jersey City Ave., Lavallette; Point Pleasant Branch, 834 Beaver Dam Road, Point Pleasant; Main Branch, 101 Washington St., Toms River; Tuckerton Branch, 380 Bay Ave., Tuckerton, and Waretown, 112 Main St. Waretown.
"This effort is supported by the generosity of the Ocean County government family, from the staff at the courthouse and Sheriff's Office, to the workers in Southern Ocean County, the county staff is helping to make a difference this holiday season," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines. "We are collectively asking the citizens to do what they can to help."
Toy distribution is scheduled for Dec. 14 and 15. For additional information call 732-929-2161 for information on requesting assistance or for providing donations. Toy donations will be accepted up until Dec. 18.
"I want to extend my appreciation to everyone involved in this program," said Freeholder Haines. "This toy drive makes a big difference for so many children. That is what the season is all about."