ORANGE, NJ — At least 50 families were able to choose from dozens of coats at the annual winter coat and toy drive giveaway at 476 Thomas Blvd., Orange, hosted by the Orange Democratic Committee on Saturday, Dec. 21. Guests also partook of tasty treats and beverages, which were served as a warm welcome to the event.
North Ward Councilwoman Tency Eason said the purpose of the coat drive was to make sure children and parents are warm this holiday season.
“The church in my ward, at 476 Thomas Blvd., donated their facilities in collaboration with the Democratic Committee. We gave away coats, hats and scarves to the community,” Eason said to the Record-Transcript during the event on Saturday, Dec. 21. “We had coats for the young kids and we had some coats for adults. … We’re here today giving away coats, toys and refreshments to some of our people in the community that need these things, so it makes us feel good and warm inside, especially during the holidays, because everyone needs a helping hand once in a while. So we collect coats to make sure our children and our parents are warm. This was a good day.”
Thomas P. Giblin, a Democratic Party politician who serves in the New Jersey General Assembly representing the 34th legislative district, concurred.
“I’m here today to witness this event, sponsored by the Orange Democratic Committee, for the benefit of the children and the greater Orange area,” Giblin said to the Record-Transcript during the coat drive on Saturday, Dec. 21. “This is a great event. I’m glad to see a lot of these happy and smiling faces. I think this is a good event for the Democratic Committee.
“Many times,” he continued, “a youngster will leave here with a good feeling about the importance of being involved in the government or the Democratic Party. It’s a small seed about developing an interest in the community and local government.”
Orange Democratic Committee Chairman Clifford Ross said the Orange community is a family that looks out for one another.
“I’m glad to be here today for the toy and coat drive that we have every year,” Ross said to the Record-Transcript. “It turned out to be a fantastic event. We have more toys and more coats than ever and it’s a pleasure that we had so many donations and sponsors. … Everyone deserves a coat for the cold weather. No child should go without a coat. Also, it’s Christmas time so they all deserve a toy.
“I would do this over and over again, because the smiles that you see on these kids’ faces when they receive a new coat or a new toy is worth a million dollars,” he continued. “I thank all of the sponsors and the donors that made this happen. The toys came from the Police Athletic League. The Police Department had a lot of toys and they donated the overdraft to us, and we still have toys left. We’re thinking about taking these toys to the hospitals now.”
Winter coats were donated by Giblin, as well as by district leaders and a few vendors.
“This … was a tremendous turnout,” Ross said. “When we started, we said we wanted 50 families, because we didn’t know how many coats or how many toys we would have. So we registered 50 families and 50 families did come. We could’ve registered a lot more because, as you can see, we have a lot more toys and a lot more coats available. …
“We would probably try to double it next year,” Ross said. “But like I said. … This is a collaborative thing. The whole city is working together to make sure that no kid is without a coat or toy for Christmas.”
Orange Democratic Committee member William Hathaway credited the Orange community.
“We’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of support from Orange residents,” Hathaway said to the Record-Transcript during the event. “We’ve gotten support from Michael Scott, who’s an Orange graduate. He donated 30 coats and it was a call of service. At any given time in Orange, there’s a call for service and that’s what we do. We like to see the people involved. The county committee people stepped up. Weldon Montague stepped in and helped organize the event, along with myself. We serviced almost 50 families today. Who does that in Orange, where the economy is the way it is, as far as putting coats in the kids’ hands and toys? So, that was something special. We had an overwhelming amount of support from the community.
“It’s a time to help people,” he continued. “Thomas Giblin stepped in and gave us a donation. Stacey Martin, who’s the county committee person, she helped me also. Melissa McCoy, who’s also a county committee member; Carey Colley, Harold Johnson; they’ve all stepped in. So, this was a team effort and I’m grateful that we can put a child in a coat with a hat and gloves during the winter months.”
Hathaway gave more insight regarding the help they’ve received this year.
“I’m so grateful that the assemblyman took the time out and even gave us a $250 donation, which was great,” he added. “Our mayor is always talking about calls of service. I’d like to thank Mayor (Dwayne) Warren, Councilwoman Eason, Councilwoman (Jamie) Summers-Johnson for sponsoring a family.”
Partnering with the Orange Police Athletic League and Giblin, the Orange Democratic Committee was successful once again in its endeavors to serve the community.
Orange resident Brianna Humbert, who attended the event, says she’s thankful for what she’s receiving this season.
“I’m here because I’m receiving a wonderful, generous gift from the Orange Democratic Committee,” Humbert said to the Record-Transcript. “I’m very thankful and gracious for this gift.”
Photos by EmilyAnn Jackman.