Last year, Vincent Virga, president of Partnership Financial Services, hoped to generate renewed interest in the uptown shopping district by getting the community behind a food and toy drive he called “Miracle on 34th Street.”
The idea was to get people to think and act as a community and to begin to come together not only around the holidays, but year round.
This year, he’s trying it again, saying with the political election and the dramatic changes on the City Council, the last year was a tough year.
“We do not have a lot of businesses moving in and out here. That is a strength for us.” – Vincent Virga
So on Dec. 11, he and other merchants will try to come together behind a drive that will generate food for hungry families in Bayonne and toys for kids who might not get presents for Christmas.
Unlike other parts of the three-mile long Broadway shopping district – such as the Town Center and Bergen Point – the uptown section lacks a merchants’ association to help give it an identity and make the public aware of its various shopping opportunities.
Uptown businesses, he said, appear to be stable, long-time businesses that form the basis of a strong local economy.
“We do not have a lot of businesses moving in and out of here,” he said. “That is a strength for us.”
By gearing up this effort at this time of year, Virga hopes to get the community to think as a community and to act as a community. He believes that if businesses and others can work together to find food and toys for the needy, they can also work together for the common good as a business community later as well.
In an arrangement made with Judicke’s Bakery, people dropping off non-perishable food items or new and unused toys at the office of PFS will receive a coupon for a complementary Danish and coffee.
In conjunction with that effort, PFS will offer photos with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 11, from noon to 3 p.m. with any toy or food item dropped off.
This promotion is open to anybody in or around the city of Bayonne, a kind of invitation to come to this part of the city and, while here, look around to see what it has to offer.
While Virga doesn’t expect the entire population of Bayonne to come out, he hopes a few will come here each day.
Spread the wealth
“If one person comes through every day until Christmas, that’s 25 items we can share,” he said.
Last year, Virga gave the donations to St. Andrew’s Parish. This year, the donations will go the Soup Kitchen at Assumption Church.
“I believe in spreading out the wealth,” he said. “Next year, we’ll look for some other group we can donate to.”
Virga said he is working with 3rd Ward Councilman Ray Greaves and the Bayonne Chamber of Commerce, as well as others, and that donations have already started
Soldiers’ Angels of New Jersey, whose coordinator, Raeann Hempel, lives in Bayonne, donated 10 large bags of clothing and toys to the effort.
Starting on Dec. 11, the drive will go until Dec. 23, when the items will be brought to the Bayonne Soup Kitchen. Kids will have an opportunity to get their photo taken with Santa on 34th Street and Broadway. And those who donate something will get hot chocolate and a donut.