BERKELEY – While the annual collection of food and toys was successful, organizers said the demand is greater than ever.
The Berkeley Shores Homeowner Association held a food drive at the parking lot of the H&M Potter School, alongside the PBA toy drive and Bayville Volunteer Fire Company’s calendar fundraiser. The three groups routinely work together to support each other’s yearly campaigns.
The food was going to the St. Barnabas food pantry, Berkeley Shores president Beth Collis said. This year, they had a carload full. But last year, there were three carloads.
“Last year was bigger,” she said. “The price of food has gone up. The cost of living” has made it more difficult for people to give.
Chris Shick and Shawn Bowens saw the same situation. They were collecting toys for the Police Benevolent Association.
“People are going through hard times, with COVID, inflation, people looking for jobs,” Bowens said.
The group also collects frozen turkeys to give out to families in need the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Shick said. There are at least 60 families on the list, but they worry that they’ll be short this year.
Local businesses are having a hard time giving, Shick said. If anyone’s interested in this program, they should call him at 732-232-6293.
It was unseasonably warm when the three groups were spending the morning collecting.
“You can’t have better weather,” Shick said. “It’s a great start for the holiday season.”
The PBA brings the toys to the VFW post on December 14 and 15. They set up appointments for local families to come and shop among the toys displayed. If someone is in need of toys, they should contact Jamie in the police dispatch department by calling the non-emergency line: 732-341-6600.
The Bayville Volunteer Fire Department sold some calendars, but not too many, a firefighter said. If you’re interested in picking one up, you can visit the firehouse on Tuesday nights at 7:30 p.m. or go to their Facebook page where there are instructions on how to order them online (facebook.com/bayville.firedept).
There was something else being collected that day – something that won’t be given out: garbage. There were 17 volunteers who cleaned up Veeder Lane and Allen Road (17.5 if you count a kid as half). They collected bags and bags of cigarette butts, bottles and cans, and other discarded items. The township provided supplies like grabbers so they didn’t have to bend down as much. It wasn’t all bad, though – one person said to have found a $100 bill. This claim could not be verified as of press time.