County drive for the needy collects 11 tons of donations

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Essex County recently announced that 97,459 people visited the 11th annual Essex County Holiday Lights Spectacular at Turtle Back Zoo and more than 11 tons of non-perishable food, clothing and toys were collected 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.”

The 97,459 visitors at the Holiday Lights Spectacular was the second largest attendance figure for the event, behind the 131,594 people who came in 2015. This past winter, 22,543 pounds — more than 11 tons — of non-perishable food was collected for the Community FoodBank of NJ. In addition, 187 bags of new toys and 334 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, Foster and Adoptive Family Services in Monmouth Junction, Iglesia Cristiana Emanuel in Newark, Ivy Hill Elementary School Kid’s Closet in Newark, Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter, Living Logos Christian Assembly in Newark, Newark/Bloomfield Elks, NJPAC Toy and Coat Drive to benefit La Casa De Don Pedro in Newark, East Orange YMCA, United Baptist Church Clothing Ministry in Elizabeth and Willing Heart Community Center in Newark. This was the eighth 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 78 tons of non-perishable food, 339,630 toys and 17,968 winter coats.

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