Post 105 donates roomful of toys, clothing to those in need

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BELLEVILLE, NJ — After a month of collecting toys and clothing from the Belleville community, the American Legion Post 105 family distributed a roomful of items days before Christmas to anyone who needed a little holiday help. After a day of people dropping by the post to collect for themselves or others, what remained from the collection was donated to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Belleville for distribution to its shelter programs.

Spearheaded by members of the American Legion Auxiliary interest group at Post 105, which is in the process of seeking a national charter, the collection began in late November and lasted all the way through the publicized pickup day, Dec. 23. Together with the Post Legionnaires and the Sons of the American Legion Squadron, the toy and coat drive was widely promoted to benefit anyone in need, regardless of their relationship to veterans or what town they live in.

“If you see pictures of this, you will understand that the Sons of the Legion, the Legion and the Auxiliary helped some of our brightest people today — our children,” Auxiliary President MaryAnn Slaughter said. “It makes your heart warm when you know you are doing something for people without asking for anything. We did this today to make people happy.”

Throughout December, members and friends of the post, as well as friends and strangers from throughout the community, donated new and lightly used coats, hats, gloves, scarves, mittens and sweaters, as well as enough new toys to fill tables and tables. The post and the SAL both donated a few hundred dollars each to purchase items as well, filling up the entire hall. Members put together stockings for the children, plus gift bags that included things every child will need for the cold weather. 

“I was floored by how much we had,” SAL Adjutant Rusty Myers said. 

The majority of items collected were for children younger than 10. 

“This was amazing. We know how to do this better for next year, and we’re going to do this next year,” ALA charter member Erica Portee said.

After it got dark and the doors were closed on the post’s Dec. 23 distribution day, members of the post family loaded two pickup trucks with what remained and took it to St. Peter’s, which runs numerous outreach programs, both for the homeless and at local hospital children’s wards. 

“We’re very appreciative of the Legion’s generosity during this Christmas season, and we thank you for your kindness,” said Ed Nejman, a volunteer who accepted the donation that night. “I’ve never seen an outpouring of generosity like this.”

This event was on the heels of the post’s donation in November of 23 baskets of food for families who needed a Thanksgiving dinner, with help from the Belleville School District and businesses in town.

“We can’t describe how great this town is when we do things like this,” SAL Cmdr. Steve Sangemino, who helped organize the event, said.

Photos Courtesy of Rusty Myer