MAPLEWOOD, NJ — In addition to their commitment to protect and serve, the Maplewood Police Department will also be spreading some holiday cheer this year as the PBA Local No. 44 and SOA No. 44 host a toy drive, which will run through Sunday, Dec. 20, to collect toys that will be distributed to families in need.
The toy drive, now in its third year, was previously held in partnership with Toys for Tots. This year the police department is collaborating with Rent Party, the local organization that uses proceeds from its live music shows to help fight hunger in the community.
Collection sites include Maplewood Police Department, at 1618 Springfield Ave., Maplewood Town Hall, at 574 Valley St., and Rent Party, at 60 Woodland Road in Maplewood. Just look for the toy drive boxes.
“As the youth detective, I work hand in hand with a lot of the youth and their families around town,” Detective Carlos Baez said in a recent interview with the News-Record. “I see firsthand the need that some of the families that we work with have.”
Baez said that in addition to many local businesses participating, the department is also receiving donations from the Chick-fil-A in Union and the Retro Fitness in Green Brook.
A goal of the Maplewood Police Department, according to Baez, is always to foster meaningful connections with the people they serve, and the detective believes this toy drive goes a long way to making that happen.
“Some people need more of a boost around the holidays and that’s why we started doing it,” he said. “They can count on us both in their time of need, and during the holidays that we can get items to them.”
In addition to the families the police department works with directly, they have also received referrals of families in need from township administration, St. Joseph’s Church and other religious groups, the PBA, and the school district.
“Creating a positive environment for both police and families, that’s something we want to emphasize,” Baez said. “We are always trying to create good community relations between the township and the police.
“Sometimes you get a family surprised that someone shows up at their door,” he continued. “We get a lot of referrals. We do it for the parents who can’t afford to do it; we want everyone to have a great holiday season.”
Anyone wishing to make a family referral to the toy drive can contact Detective Carlos Baez at Cbaez@twp.maplewood.nj.us or 973-761-7924.