More than 1,600 area children and their families had a brighter holiday season this year thanks to the generosity of hundreds of local businesses, schools and organizations who supported Family & Children’s Service’s (FCS) annual gift giving drive Operation Sleighbells. The program, which traces its roots to the start of the agency in 1909, fulfills the holiday wishes of area children whose families may be struggling financially by collecting and distributing thousands of new toys, books, coats, hats and other necessities each year.
“Every year we cross our fingers that the number of donations we receive will meet the anticipated need, and every year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and neighbors,” says FCS Director of Volunteer Services, Samantha White. “This year, community support enabled us to serve more than 500 area families. For every child in need there were twice as many people willing to give.”
Operation Sleighbells is different from other holiday drives in that it addresses the specific wishes of a child. Participating families are interviewed by staff and asked to provide the ages, sizes and needs of the children in their care. Donors are then asked to fulfill the requests, either individually or by sponsoring an entire family. Businesses and organizations wanting to conduct toy drives can request special “sleigh tags” that list the name of a child and their wish list. Donors then take the tags to shop for an individual child.
Dozens of local businesses, schools and organizations contributed to the success of this years Operation Sleighbells, including: AIG, Allstate Insurance, The Atlantic Club of Manasquan, Atlantis Prep, BASF Corp., the Banana Republic Factory Store, Brookdale Community College, Brownie Troop 696, The Burberry Outlet, CCMSI, ChoEducators, Colts Neck High School, Commvault, the Dugan School, The Endoscopy Center of Red Bank, The Entech Group Inc., Hair Crafters of Middletown, Holmdel Village School, Howell High School, Lightbridge Academy in Manasquan, Little Chief Learning Station in Holmdel, M Space, Matawan Aberdeen Food Service, the Molly Pitcher Stichers, Monmouth University, Morgan Stanley, The Moser Taboada Law Firm, Noontime Optomists, Open Systems of Little Silver, Park Church of Tinton Falls, Pet Smart, Qualcare, Ridge Realty, Rumson Public Works, the Rumson Country Day School, Single Throw Marketing, Synergy, Trident Abstract Title Company, Trinity Hall, Weichert Realtors, Wells Fargo Bank, West Freehold School and West-Ward Pharmaceuticals.
FCS CEO Delly Beekman says the agency owes a special thanks to one community partner in particular.
“Due to the enormous volume of gifts we collect and distribute, Operation Sleighbells requires the short-term use of an off-site space,” Ms. Beekman says. “We were very fortunate this year to partner with Monmouth Park which generously donated more than 5,000 square feet of space for our use, allowing us to increase the number of families we served and helping us fulfill our Mission to provide compassionate care, intervention and education to people during challenging times.”
Thank you to all those who helped make this year’s Operation Sleighbells a huge success! View our Operation Sleighbells photo gallery.