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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Dec 07, 2017

FCS Seeks Toy Donations for Operation Sleighbells 

With the holidays upon us, FCS (Family & Children’s Service), Monmouth County’s oldest private, nonprofit social service agency, is asking for your help in granting the holiday wishes of nearly 2,000 area children in need. The agency is collecting donations of new children’s coats, hats, gloves, toys, books, gift cards, and infant necessities through Wednesday, December 13 for its holiday giving program, Operation Sleighbells. “Our agency was started 108 years ago on the premise that no one should feel forgotten during the holidays, especially children,” explains FCS CEO Delly Beekman. “Operation Sleighbells continues that tradition by bringing the community together to make the season brighter for our neighbors in need. Granting the holiday wish of a child may not seem like much, but for the child who might not otherwise receive a gift, or the parent who cannot provide one, it’s everything.”

Operation Sleighbells is different from many holiday programs in that it addresses the specific wishes of every child. Participating families are interviewed in early October and asked to provide the ages, sizes, and gift wishes for each child. Using the lists, the agency then collects, organizes, sorts, and distributes thousands of gifts to hundreds of families each year.

FCS Director of Volunteer Services Samantha White says Operation Sleighbells is an enormous undertaking that requires more than 5,000 square feet of off-site space. “For the past several years, we have been fortunate that Monmouth Racetrack has allowed us to use a portion of their Oceanport facilities to conduct Operation Sleighbells,” she explains. “Without their donation of space, we would be forced to greatly reduce the number of families we serve.”

The program also relies on the generosity of dozens of corporations, businesses, schools, churches, families, and other organizations who donate gifts to the program or volunteer. Karen Pennington with West Ward Pharmaceuticals in Eatontown is in charge of organizing her company’s collection drive each year. “Of all the programs we participate in each year, this is the dearest to our heart,” she says. In five years, West Ward has helped fulfill the holiday wishes of more than 800 area children.

If you are interested in supporting Operation Sleighbells, there are a number of ways to help:

  1. Adopt a family. Provide toys, gifts, coats, and perhaps a supermarket gift card to enable an entire family to have a special holiday meal.
  2. Host a collection drive at work, school, or organization. FCS will provide tags listing the first name of each participating child with his or her age, size, and holiday wish. Employees or group members can then select a tag and buy a gift for that particular child.
  3. Donate gifts. FCS gladly accepts new, unwrapped coats, books, toys, and other gifts and will sort and distribute them based on the needs of those registered for the program.
  4. Donate money to purchase gift cards for teenagers. Donations can be made online or mailed to the agency.
  5. Volunteer. Provide helping hands to sort and pack gifts.

For more information about Operation Sleighbells and how you can help, visit the FCS website at http://fcsmonmouth.org/our-services/operation-sleighbells/.