ORANGE, NJ — Spreading holiday cheer far and wide this holiday season, Orange Mayor Dwayne Warren and the Orange Municipal Council hosted the 10th annual Toys for Tots holiday event at the Orange Police Department on Wednesday, Dec. 22.
Warren was in attendance and praised everyone involved in the event, which he said thrilled children as toys were given out to them.
“The event was held in the police department parking lot, which was transformed into a holiday toy land for Orange’s children,” Warren said on Sunday, Dec. 26. “Orange employees, (the) U.S. Marines Toys for Tots program, donors to toy drives and the community at large held this event with donations from community partners, including the U.S. Marine Corps, Orange public safety and other employees, who made kids smile with toys. Over 1,000 toys were supplied, to donate to every family who needed them. No one was turned away.”
There was a larger turnout than originally anticipated, with many residents coming out to get into the holiday spirit, see Santa Claus and receive toys for children. The event was a welcome distraction from the COVID-19 pandemic, which currently has many on edge.
“Hundreds of children came out and kicked off the holiday fellowship in a line that wrapped around the corner, sat with Santa and received their gifts,” Warren said. “The large turnout reminded us of the critical need caused by COVID-19 and other circumstances. The event gets larger every year. That is partly due to the celebratory atmosphere that is created by the police department in concert with fire, Department of Public Works and community service departments. Some families came just to share in the sense of community that we create.”
Given the heaviness of COVID-19 that continues to loom over countless communities, Warren said he was grateful that this event was able to serve the community for yet another year.
“A mask requirement was imposed for all persons,” Warren said. “We were also conscious about directing people to move on and maintain social distance. Toys for Tots is a global effort that graciously touches down in Orange each year. We are grateful for their effort and all the servicemen and -women who serve the city.”
Councilwoman Adrienne Wooten called the event a huge success.
“Because the primary goal of Marine Toys for Tots is to gift a new toy, to help bring the joy of Christmas and send a message of hope to America’s less fortunate children, it is a must that this initiative goes forward every year,” Wooten said on Sunday, Dec. 26. “Especially this year, when so many have lost so much during the past months. It is great when you can help a parent out with a toy for their child. It is priceless to see the faces of the youngsters to receive this toy.
“We were able to give out countless toys to the young,” she continued. “I consider this event a huge success. Additionally, we were able to give out gift cards to a group of teens who sometimes felt they were too old for toys. This is the most wonderful time of year — a time to give.”
Councilwoman Jamie Summers-Johnson agreed.
“I would consider this event a success, because no child in the line went without a toy this holiday,” Summers-Johnson said on Sunday, Dec. 26. “This event brought out police, fire, city officials, city employees and hundreds of residents. This was a well-planned event, and, even though the line was long, it moved very quickly.”