By Elaine Van Develde
Santa Claus is coming to … the Rumson Department of Public Works.
That’s right. It’s that time of the year, on Friday and Saturday, when Rumson tradition takes hold and Santa, in the form of countless charitable elves, brings toys to the DPW garage on East River Road to bring a better Christmas to children in need.
But this is not just a toy drive. It’s an annual Rumson community tradition. It’s hosted by the DPW employees and the community as a whole, replete with holiday-appropriate hot chocolate, candy canes and yuletide company.
“It’s definitely turned into a big community event,” DPW organizer Mark Wellner said. “A lot of people stop down, bring the kids and socialize. We give the kids the candy canes and hot chocolate and there’s coffee for the adults. It’s really nice.”
Mayor John Ekdahl echoed the sentiment.
“The residents of Rumson are thrilled that the DPW department has for years taken upon themselves to run a Christmas toy drive,” the mayor said. “Different charities are chosen each year and the donated toys always find their way to the most needy children. The enthusiasm of the town is evident by the numbers of toys dropped off each year at the garages behind Borough Hall.”
This is the 15th year of the drive for which organizers usually set a goal of gathering at least 1,000 toys that will get funneled to the kids via Family & Children’s Services, Long Branch, and The Salvation Army, Red Bank.
And “this year we’re shooting for 1,200 or even more,” Wellner said. “We’re always trying to up that number and better ourselves to get more toys to the kids.”
Organizers ask that anyone wishing to donate bring a new, unwrapped gift to the DPW from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Friday and/or 9 a..m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.