What began Saturday morning in a room packed with toys at Brick Police headquarters will become a very merry Christmas to hundreds of the township’s children whose holiday may not have been as bright without a little help.
The massive volunteer effort by over 100 people, including many township police officers, takes time. But this year, as they have for more than two decades, the Brick Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 230 led one of the area’s largest toy drives as the need in the community grows.
“Every year we see an increase in families,” said Patrolman Ryan Talty, a four-year veteran of the department who chaired the toy drive for second year.
This year, PBA members and volunteers collected, wrapped and distributed toys to 257 local children in need.
The PBA spends each holiday season collecting toys from bins placed in the township’s Walmart and K-Mart stores, with extra donations coming from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots program, locally based in Red Bank, Talty said. From there, PBA volunteers partner with several community groups, including the Police Explorers, Boy Scout Troop 20, Dragon cheerleaders, and the honor societies and Key Club chapters of Brick’s two high schools. Participants in the New Jersey Junior High, High School and Collegiate American Pageants also volunteered. The group of between 100 and 120 volunteers gets to work early, separating, wrapping and tagging gifts with their recipients’ names, readying them for a trip on Santa’s sleigh to children in need.
The “sleigh” of course, is driven by Brick police officers, who donate their time to deliver the gifts to families in need throughout the town, a journey that was undertaken Saturday morning, starting from that toy-filled room at town hall. The gifts are much appreciated, especially by parents who are able to give their children a special Christmas that may otherwise not have happened.
“I delivered to a lady today, and she just broke down in tears,” Talty said. “We had a few other guys who said the same thing. They were overwhelmed and so thankful.”
Police officers received plenty of hugs along with the tears as a Brick tradition more than 20 years in the making played out again.
“It gets very emotional,” Talty said.