EO 3rd Ward council members describe Toy Drive as a success

Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, East Orange 3rd Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus, his sister and an unidentified man stand in front of the toys they collected for charity on Sunday, Dec. 16, at the annual Toy Drive at the new Mrs. G’s Cafe on Central Avenue.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — East Orange 3rd Ward Councilwoman Quilla Talmadge and her council partner, 3rd Ward Councilman Bergson Leneus, hosted the fourth annual Toy Drive at Mrs. G Lounge on Central Avenue on Sunday, Dec. 16.

“I partnered with him to do this for the community,” said Talmadge on Monday, Dec. 17, of Leneus. “He’s really good for the community. He loves to put stuff on and I love working with him to do those things. The toy drive was successful, so we’re going to do a lot of things and he’s also going to send some toys to Haiti, which is good.”

Talmadge said she and Leneus will continue hosting annual toy drives in conjunction with organizations such as New Jersey Kids Fashion Week, the Patrick Healy Student Council and the Rubens Blanc Management company, which co-sponsored this year’s event, saying such events are “good for the community.”

Leneus echoed her sentiments.

“Today, we’re doing our toy drive for some important nonprofit organizations in East Orange. Our primary source is Isaiah House, right here in East Orange. They support families, they support communities, so that’s what we’re about,” said Leneus on Sunday, Dec. 16. “It’s going well. We had a lot of people donate. We even had Mayor (Dwayne) Warren from the city of Orange here. He gave us two big bags. Mayor (Ted) Green has like 10 big bags for us. The City Council donated. Councilwoman Talmadge and I just want to say thank you to everybody that supported.”

Leneus said the outpouring of support for the fourth annual Toy Drive was “amazing.” And now, he and Talmadge said they’ll be putting all of that support to good use on behalf of children and families in East Orange and those in need in Haiti.

“Our mission is always to help where we’re at. You know, home is where the heart is, so East Orange is home, Haiti is home, so we try our best to support both communities as much as we can,” said Leneus, the city’s first Haitian American elected official, on Sunday, Dec. 16. “We got a lot of gifts. I’m telling you, the outpouring of support is amazing. I can’t even thank them enough or everybody enough.”

Although the annual Toy Drive is the end-of-the-year event for the two council members, they said it’s not their only community-oriented charitable activity.

“We do philanthropic events throughout the year. We did an event on Thanksgiving. We’re doing an event now. We do a day of service on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We’re just out here supporting as much as we can,” said Leneus. “For me, it doesn’t stop. We’re going to continue to push, continue to work hard, continue to support people that need supporting. That’s just our motto. That’s our method and that’s what we’re going to do.”

“This is our fourth annual event by the way. So this isn’t something new,” Leneus continued. “I don’t want people to think, ‘Oh, he just did this because he’s a councilman.’ This is our fourth annual event, so we’ve been doing this each winter.”

Josie Payoute, Leneus’ sister, agreed that giving back to the community is near and dear to their hearts. The professional fashion coordinator said New Jersey Kids Fashion Week is a nonprofit organization that caters to children in the East Orange community and “helps them with etiquette, helps how to walk on the runway, it helps them with self-confidence and it also empowers them as well.”

“I would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting us for the fourth year with our Toy Drive,” said Payoute on Sunday, Dec. 16. “We have a lot more things coming up for 2019. Also, our annual Fashion Show for New Jersey Kids Fashion Week will be taking place on Sept. 21, 2019, at the Hahne’s Building in Newark.

For more information about NJ Kids Fashion Week, visit www.njkidsfashionweek.com.