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Christmas Event on Sat. for Ocean County Kids Impacted by Sandy

Brick and Toms River drop-off locations available for new toys for Ocean County children

Courtesy: Christmas on the Island website
Courtesy: Christmas on the Island website
"Christmas on the Island" will be a holiday extravaganza in Seaside Heights on Saturday open to all Ocean County children impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

The event will kick off with a parade starting at noon down the Boulevard in Seaside Heights and will also feature photos with Santa, gifts and giveaways, arts and crafts, music, food, beverages and fun and games, according to the event website.

The planning group of all volunteers, about 100 strong, still needs gift cards as presents for older kids and new toys as gifts for the younger ones, according to the group's Facebook page.

The Christmas event is run by the Hurricane Sandy Resource Center, an organization started and run by Courtney Chibbaro, a South Seaside Park resident, that has helped numerous Sandy-flooded residents rebuild their homes. The group has helped with 500 work orders across the county.

But filling work orders wasn't enough at Christmas time, Chibbaro decided last year after spending Thanksgiving away from her beloved island home. She counts herself lucky since Sandy only dinged her roof, but didn't flood her house. However, she, like other island dwellers, had not been allowed back home by that time last year.

inspired by the pain and suffering of her Sandy-flooded neighbors and friends to create a special Christmas for kids, Chibarro led a caravan of gift-givers all over the barrier island on Dec. 23 last year.

That got her thinking about planning a local holiday event. Then, the day after Christmas, she lost her job.

"That's when I decided to do this," she said. 

This month, the second annual event will be held and promises to be even better. And this year, the families need it even more.

"A lot of people still aren't home," Chibarro said. "They've maxed out every credit card, they've applied for every loan they can and the money has run out. They don't see a light at the end of the tunnel."

The ideal drop-off location, and mailing destination, for toys, gift cards and other donations is at The People’s Pantry, which is the headquarters for Christmas On The Island, at 1001 Fischer Blvd., Toms River, NJ 08753.

However, there are also other drop-off locations throughout the county. For information on other drop-off sites, in Jackson, Seaside Heights and Lavallette, click here.

Also, Danielle Del Prete of Del Prete Construction, said her family business at 21 Washington Dr., Brick, is another drop-off location, but that if someone cannot drop it off, they can contact the company on their Facebook page and request a pick-up. Any such requests would have to be made quickly since Del Prete wants to deliver all toys to event organizers by Thursday.

Parents who want their children (newborn to 17 years of age) to receive a present are asked to register them as soon as possible on the event website. Those wishing to donate by dropping off items or mailing gift cards or donations can also visit the website for more information.

So far, there are 600 children registered.

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