NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. -- North Arlington first responders have again used a "giving tree" to facilitate holiday toy donations -- and this year was an even greater success than last year.
"The North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Squad has worked with the North Arlington Police Department the past three years to try to make Christmas a little better for families in our community," said NAVES Lt. George McDermott.
NAVES members put up the giving tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and the project runs until the weekend before Christmas, NAVES president Nicole Wartel told Daily Voice. Charlie's Nursery & Garden Center, in North Arlington, donates the tree each year.
It's then decorated with tags that list age groups and genders, and people -- from both North Arlington and surrounding towns -- come by and pick up tags. The people then buy toys fitting the tags' descriptions and drop the presents off at the NAVES building.
Wartel said that the donated toys are given to North Arlington kids that the members know aren't as fortunate. "Any remaining gifts are then donated to local shelters in order to spread the holiday cheer," she added.
"This year we hung a ton of tags and every single one was used," Wartel said. "We had close to 100 presents this year. It was a huge success."
NAVES members who participated in this year's toy drive included Samuel Pinguelo, Matthew Miller, Joseph Miller, Nicole Pinho, Nicole Wartel, Brandon Engracia, Branden Lauer, Christopher Imbrenda and Joshua Lopez.
"We are so grateful for the people who picked up a tag and donated a gift," Wartel said.
To my amazement, people would ring the doorbell and drop off 20 gifts at a time. It is people like this that make what we do worth it. On behave of NAVES, we want to wish everyone a very happy and healthy holiday season.
"Thank you to everyone who donated," said NAVES Capt. Christopher Imbrenda. "We know your kindness and generosity will not go unnoticed and that the kids will truly appreciate it."
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