For the 19th year in a row, former Belleville Mayor Angie Paserchia, Councilman Kevin Kennedy and nearly 200 others gathered for the Toys for Tots collection, an annual pre-holiday tradition renewed recently at the Knights of Columbus in Belleville.
The event is a co-production of the Carl A. Paserchia Memorial Foundation – named for Angie's son, who passed away in 2002 – and the Kevin G. Kennedy Civic Association, and many hundreds of toys were collected to brighten up the holidays of many children, officials said.
"We collected hundreds of toys this evening for Belleville's children," said Richard Yanuzzi, one of the event organizers. "Great event!"
The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.
The primary goal of Toys for Tots is to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less fortunate youngsters that will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, patriotic citizens, according to the organization's website.
The objectives of Toys for Tots are to help less fortunate children throughout the United States experience the joy of Christmas; to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources – our children; to unite all members of local communities in a common cause for three months each year during the annual toy collection and distribution campaign; and to contribute to better communities in the future, according to the organization.
The toys and games will benefit children from nearly 100 families, with other toys being donated to the Marines, the First Cerebral Palsy Center in Belleville and Clara Maass Medical Center.
Officials said anyone who knows of a family that will need toys this holiday season, should contact the Belleville Health Department at (973) 450-3389.