Not the sound of Santa’s reindeer, but the grinding of gears, came with this year’s delivery of Christmas toys for Bayonne’s needy children.
The U.S. Army and Reserve joined members of the Bayonne Detachment of the Marine Corps League in unloading a truckload of toys at the offices of the Bayonne Equal Opportunity Foundation on Dec. 12.
The delivery arrived after the Marine Corps League’s three-day toy drive in front of McDonald’s on Broadway, although some gifts came from businesses and corporations as well.
The toys filled the military cargo vehicle, and U.S. Army soldiers and reservists helped carry bicycles, games, and dolls into the BEOF office.
“We start distributing the toys immediately.” – Eleanor Tiefenwerth
“We start distributing the toys immediately,” said Eleanor Tiefenwerth, executive director of the BEOF.
Unlike Santa, whose list of names is generated by which child were “naughty or nice,” the BEOF’s list is based on need, and is developed in conjunction with the Bayonne School District, with whom the gift of toys are shared.
“We have a sheet of requests and the ages of the children,” Tiefenwerth said. “The most needy will get their gifts first.”
“This was really a community effort,” said Barry Dugan, a member of the Bayonne contingent of the U.S. Marine Corps League.
Marine Corps League detachments in nearly every community take part annually in the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign to raise funds and collect and distribute toys to needy children. In communities where there is an existing Marine Corps Reserve Unit, the league works hand-in-hand to support their campaign. In other communities, the Marine Corps League takes the lead, ensuring a successful campaign.
In years past, the Bayonne detachment set up their collection in front of Irwin’s Department Store. But since Irwin’s closed last year, the Marines have found a new home in front of the McDonald’s restaurant on Broadway and 25th Street.
Some of the key people in this year’s drive include Detachment Commander Lou Giovanni, Robert Geis, Scott Cooper, and Al Czarnecki, who worked hard to collect toys for the 44th year in Bayonne to fill the five-ton Army truck from the Army Reserve Center at Caven Point in Jersey City.
Giovannie said that locals for both the police and fire unions were active in this toy campaign, as well as the Bayonne Medical Center, several area pubs, and local businesses.
As in the past, Global Terminals and Delta Storage also contributed heavily to making this year’s toy drive successful.
Toys were not only collected in Bayonne, but also from firms owned by members of the U.S. Marine Corps League, such as F and G Mechanical Inc. in Secaucus. Various civic groups, churches and individuals also delivered their toys to the Marines.
Soldiers such as Sgt. Berdford River, Sgt. Antonio Rivera, Specialist Maria Hidalgo, and Specialist Razak Ibrahiv carried the assortment of gifts into the BEOF office.
Tiefenwerth said toys are distributed through a variety of community organizations, including the Board of Education, the Bayonne Youth Center, and even BEOF’s own programs such as Head Start.