FCS Kicks off Annual Holiday Giving Drive

Monmouth Medical Center to Donate Space for Operation Sleighbells

FCS Kicks off Annual Holiday Giving Drive

LONG BRANCH, NJ, December 15, 2011 – Are you looking for a way to give back in a meaningful way this Holiday Season? If so, Family & Children’s Service (FCS), Monmouth County’s oldest nonprofit social service agency, could use your assistance. For more than 100 years, FCS has been granting holiday wishes for thousands of children throughout Monmouth County through the agency’s annual holiday giving program, Operation Sleighbells. In 2010, the program fulfilled the wishes of nearly 400 local families, distributing nearly ten tons of new toys, books, clothing, outerwear and other needed items. This year, the agency hopes to serve more than 1,500 children and their families and is calling on the community to help.

Already one generous donor has come forward. For the second year in a row, Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) has graciously donated space on its Long Branch campus to serve as Operation Sleighbells’ 2011 headquarters. The additional 10,000 thousand square feet of space will give FCS volunteers and staff a safe, heated environment in which to sort, pack and distribute the thousands of donated items.

“We are proud to once again support Family and Children’s Services by providing them with a safe space to fulfill the holiday wishes of so many needy families in Monmouth County,” says Frank J. Vozos, M.D., FACS, executive director of Monmouth Medical Center. “Operation Sleighbells makes a big difference in the communities we serve and we welcome the opportunity to be part of it.”

FCS President & CEO Vincent D’Elia says the agency grew out of the very first Operation Sleighbells effort, when a group of Long Branch citizens decided to provide holiday gifts of food, coal, clothes and toys to impoverished children and their families. Then, just as now, the program relied on the community’s participation to succee

“For Operation Sleighbells to make a difference in the lives of children, we depend on the goodwill and generosity of our friends and neighbors,” says D’Elia. “Their donations of time, money and gifts allow us to continue this important holiday tradition year after year.”

Unlike many other holiday gift-giving programs, Operation Sleighbells addresses the specific wishes of every child. Families are referred to the agency and later interviewed and asked to provide a list of the ages, size and needs of each child. FCS Manager of Volunteer Services Samantha White says there are a number of ways individuals and families can contribute to the effort. They can:

  • Host a collection drive – We’ll provide sleigh tags to hang or distribute at your workplace, school, club or family event. Each tag lists the first name of a child with his or her age, size and holiday wishes. Employees or group members can then select a sleigh from the tree and buy a gift for that particular child.
  • Donate gifts – We gladly accept new, unwrapped toys, clothes and non-perishable food items, and will sort and distribute them based on the needs of those registered for the program.
  • Donate money or gift cards for older teens – If you don’t have time to shop, Family & Children’s Service will do the shopping for you.
  • Volunteer – Organize a group or volunteer to help sort and pack gifts during the month of December.

In addition, FCS will conduct a holiday coat drive. Donations of coats of all sizes in good condition for men, women and children are appreciated. For more information about Operation Sleighbells and how you can help, visit the FCS website at www.fcsmonmouth.org or contact the agency at 732-222-9111.

About Monmouth Medical Center
Monmouth Medical Center, a 527-bed hospital, is one of New Jersey’s largest academic medical centers and a university-level campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia. The hospital is a vital safety net to the communities it serves. In this academic environment, Monmouth Medical provides the latest in medical technology, procedures and treatments that ensure patients receive the most up-to-date care.

As a regional leader dedicated to children’s health, The Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center offers the highest level of pediatric care for newborns to adolescents, including leading-edge treatment and specialized expertise that only a comprehensive children’s hospital can provide.