County collects more than 13.5 tons of food to donate

WEST ORANGE, NJ — With 88,397 visitors, the 12th annual Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo collected more than 13.5 tons of non-perishable food, clothing and toys for those in need.

“It is humbling to see the large number of items dropped off at the Holiday Lights Spectacular to assist the less fortunate. These donations show the generous spirit and caring that exists in our community and certainly helped make a difference during the holiday season to those who need assistance,” Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. said. “We offered free admission to the Holiday Lights as a way to give back to our residents and make the event available to everyone, and we thank our visitors for their extraordinary generosity to help the less fortunate.”

This past winter, 27,170 pounds — more than 13.5 tons — of non-perishable food was collected for the Community FoodBank of NJ. In addition, 129 bags of new toys and 170 bags of winter coats and clothing were collected. These items were donated to Elmwood United Presbyterian Church in East Orange, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office Toy Drive, United Vailsburg Services in Newark, Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel in Newark, Ivy Hill Elementary School Kid’s Closet in Newark, Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter, Milagro Angel in Newark, and the NJPAC Toy and Coat Drive to benefit La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark. This was the 10th year that visitors were asked to make a donation to help the less fortunate, and donations collected over the years have amounted to more than 91.5 tons of non-perishable food, 339,630 toys and 17,968 winter coats.

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