With the holiday season upon us, it would be prudent to know when and where you can donate food, clothing, or toys for those in need all around the area. Whether it is your local food bank or a county organization, there is no shortage of holiday donation drives working to get the less fortunate through the winter months.
Here is a list of some of the major drives going on throughout Ocean County and Monmouth County towns.
On a county scale, Ocean County residents can look to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department for their annual holiday Toy Drive. The OCSD puts on this drive each year with help from the Ocean County Chiefs of Police Association to provide gifts for children of families in need within Ocean County.
To request toys through the program, you must fill out a Toy Drive Form either online, send via email, or print it out and fax or mail it to the department by Dec. 12. The deadline for toy donations is Dec. 20. If you wish to donate a new unwrapped toy, call 732-929-2161 for information.
Fulfill, formerly the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, is always collecting funds and food for those in need. Fulfill accepts food donations year-round at the following locations:
- The B.E.A.T. Center (Ocean County), 1769 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ. Call 732-731-1400. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Neptune Facility (Monmouth County), 3300 Route 66, Neptune, NJ. Call 732-918-2600. Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a list of the most needed food items, visit fulfillnj.org/donate-food-most-needed-items/.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved in your hometown, check out some of these ongoing and seasonal food/toy collection drives:
The Barnegat Food Pantry is always accepting food donations. The pantry is located at 360 N. Main Street in Barnegat. Hours are: Monday 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Wednesday and Friday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, or to find out the most needed food donations, call 609-698-7174.
You can also make donations to Saint Mary’s Pantry at St. Vincent de Paul in Barnegat. The St. Mary’s Pantry St. Vincent de Paul is located at 747 West Bay Ave. and is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information, call 609-698-7477.
The Lacey Food Bank is requesting help from locals to put gifts under the tree for children in need this Christmas. The Lacey Food Bank Kids Committee is collecting new, unused, unwrapped toys and clothing for 220 children.
“From Infant to Adult XX Large, our boys and girls are in need of warm winter clothing: pajamas, sweatshirts, sweatpants, sweaters, slippers, boots, hats, gloves and scarves and always socks and underwear!” stated the food bank’s page.
Children’s toys for all ages, gift cards, and monetary donations are also accepted. Lacey Food Bank asks that you make checks payable to the Lacey Food Bank, noting on the check that it is for the Food Bank Kids Christmas.
You can drop off donations at:
- Lacey Food Bank, 102 Station Dr., Forked River, Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Ryan’s Service Center, 603 Rt. 9, Lanoka Harbor
- New Concept Hair Salon, 44 Manchester Ave., Lanoka Harbor
- Stress Center (upstairs), 535 Lacey Rd., Forked River
- Bob’s Square Deal Hardware, Rt. 9, Forked River
- Weichert Realty, Lacey Road, Forked River
- Family Dentistry, 123 Main St., Forked River
- Lovelight on Main, Rt. 9, Forked River
- Elitefit, 136 Rt. 9, Forked River
- Befit, 555 Lacey Rd., Forked River.
All donations are needed by Dec. 12 so that they can be distributed to families on Dec. 14.
Stafford Township is also hosting both a toy drive and a winter coat drive this holiday season. The Stafford Township PBA Local 297 and Stafford Recreation are hosting a Holiday Toy Drive from Nov. 5-Dec. 21. You can donate new, unwrapped gifts for boys and girls of all ages, such as craft sets, movie tickets, gift cards, etc.
Various Stafford businesses will also have holiday toy drive boxes set up in stores, so keep an eye out!
Give the gift of warmth during Stafford’s Winter Coat Drive from Nov. 5-Dec. 21. They are collecting new, unused winter coats, hats, and gloves from infant sizes to adult.
Donations can be dropped off at the Bay Avenue Community Center Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also drop off any time at the Stafford Police Department or on weekdays at the Pine Street Recreation Building.
For more information, contact 609-597-1000 ext. 8573.
Stafford Recreation will also be collecting items for Stafford’s Free Little Pantry, created by local Eagle Scout Parker Petty. Petty initiated the Free Little Pantry Project in Stafford Township earlier this year as his Eagle Scout project.
“Petty, his father and fellow Eagle Scouts began building and installing pantry boxes in several locations around town to provide food for those who are in need. These boxes are now open and accessible to the public all day, every day, all year long,” according to Stafford Recreation.
You can donate to these pantry boxes at Heritage Park (W. Bay Avenue), Beach Avenue Park (77 Beach Ave) and the Bay Avenue Community Center (775 E. Bay Ave). One more box will be installed in Ocean Acres in the near future as well.
If you would like to help stock the pantry, leave non-perishable food, canned goods, and personal care items. No sharp objects (razors) or chemicals.
Ocean County Hunger Relief is asking locals to keep them in mind while shopping for Christmas gifts this year. The organization is looking for more sponsors to help support the homeless, veterans, low income families, and others in need. All they require is a donation of
Ocean County Hunger Relief is located at 917-5 N Main St. in Toms River. Call 732-505-4357.
The Jackson Food Pantry is also in need of donations and supplies. The Jackson Chamber of Commerce is requesting that residents contribute gift cards this holiday season.
Residents can donate a gift card for stores such as Walmart, Target, Glory’s Market, ShopRite, Stop n’ Shop, and others. By donating, the gift cards will help families in need prepare their own holiday menus, purchase special treats for their children, and simply shop for something special on their own.
Donations can be dropped off to any of the following locations:
- Fulton Bank of NJ, 139 Manhattan Street, Jackson
- Investor’s Bank, 130 North County Line Rd, Jackson
- Lakeland Bank, 2110 W. County Line Rd., Jackson
- OceanFirst Bank, 10 Leesville Rd, Jackson
- Santander Bank, 2285 W. County Line Rd., Jackson
- Shore Community Bank, 1130 East Veterans Highway, Jackson
- TD Bank, 7 North County Line Rd., Jackson.
Howell is hosting their annual Adopt A Family drive, which helps local families in need during the holidays by “adopting” or sponsoring one family at a time.
“The goal is to assign each volunteer sponsor an “adopted” family in Howell to give that family’s children (age toddlers to 17 years old) a brighter holiday. To assist us in accomplishing this goal, several local businesses, neighborhoods, residents and non-profit organizations and groups will be involved in this effort,” according to the township.
You can help by:
- Calling the Township of Howell to sign up to sponsor a Howell family 732-938-4500 ext. 2102
- Purchasing gift certificates in any increment
- Organize a neighborhood, office and/or store collection for families.
All gifts for donation must be wrapped and dropped off to the township municipal building by Dec. 6, from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., or Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
While some of these donation drives are seasonal, there are plenty of collections going on year-round. Donations can always be made to local animal shelters, such as the Ocean County Animal Shelter Facilities located in both Manahawkin and Jackson Townships.
Here is a list of local food banks and donation centers always looking for helping hands and contributions:
- All Saints Episcopal Church, Lakewood,
- Destiny Community Development Corporation, Brick
- East Dover Baptist Church, Toms River
- Hope Center, Toms River
- Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit, Manahawkin
- Macedonia Baptist Church, Lakewood
- New Beginning Christian Center, Brick
- Ocean Christian Community Church, Toms River
- Saint Anthony Claret Church, Lakewood
- Saint Martha’s Church Roman Catholic Church, Point Pleasant
- Salvation Army of Ocean County, Toms River
- Visitation Roman Catholic Church, Brick
- Your Grandmother’s Cupboard, Toms River
- House of Hope of Ocean County, Toms River
Peoples Pantry, Toms River.