Berkeley Heights Local 144 captures the Grinch
Berkeley Heights Local 144 members paraded two paddy wagons around town from sunrise to sunset on Dec. 12, when Santa Claus arrived to capture the Grinch that stole Christmas (decorations).
The Local posted on its Facebook page about multiple reports of stolen Christmas decorations, including a reindeer from a Summit Local 52 member, with a video of the “suspect,” who was the Grinch. Then, Santa came from the North Pole to help capture the Grinch, putting him in a special jail to ensure he can’t get out.
Santa and the jailed Grinch travelled through the East and West Districts and were tracking their whereabouts on the Local’s Facebook page for residents to go outside and meet the officers in costume.
“You’re putting a smile on a face at the time where people are upset that they can’t do normal activities,” said Pat Moran, the Local’s state delegate. “As we toured through the neighborhoods, [families] knew we were coming and would start yelling to get us to stop and take a picture with the Grinch.”
Several members of the Local volunteered to wear the Grinch and Santa costumes, rotating every four hours throughout the day to cover the 6.5-square-mile town. Danny Cuocci, Vic Pozsonyi and Tim Neri wore the Grinch costumes, while Ernie Schmidt, Don Maxwell and Mike Klimek dressed as Santa for the “Capture the Grinch” event. They were able to get to every street on both sides of town.
Moran gave the officers in costumers the same body warmers that Olympic skiers use.
“The officers in costume were using hand and feet warmers because it was freezing, so it was not an easy job,” Moran said. “But it was a great networking event during a time where people may not want to talk with the police.”
The Grinch was forced to return all the decorations he stole, then was taken downtown with Santa where the Christmas tree was being lit. The Grinch was finally set free to engage with children and their families.
In previous Decembers, the Local held a “Santa in Blue” event, delivering gifts that were coordinated with parents to the children of the community. But after the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the department wanted to revamp its event to keep residents safe and enjoy the holiday at the same time.
Although engaging with the whole community is important to the Local, the “Capture the Grinch” event mirrored its emphasis on caring for the children during the holidays.
“We want to build a relationship with the kids,” Moran said. “The event gave them something to look forward to, instead of just being stuck in the house on a cold day.”
Old Bridge Local 127 gives and receives for the holidays
Decorations in front of a resident’s house read “Happy holidays” and “#TeamBryce.” Old Bridge Local 127 Member Steve McCauley and President Vinny Galgano joined a holiday-themed drive-by on Dec. 13 to support Bryce Lomas, a freshman at Old Bridge High School who was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
McCauley and Galgano presented an Uber Eats gift card to Lomas, who is a big fan of the food delivery company. AML is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow with excess immature white blood cells, and Lomas will be undergoing constant blood transfusions and platelets to keep him alive.
On Dec. 22, Galgano joined Superior Officer Association (SOA) secretary sergeant Jim Ford to load up a truck full of toys to be distributed to underprivileged and underserved children. The toys were sent to the Harmony Family Success Center, a human services organization, to be given to children in New Brunswick, Middlesex County and Central New Jersey.
In the spirit of giving and receiving this holiday season, elementary school students wanted to show their support for the Old Bridge PD by giving them colorful ornaments with messages like “Thank you OBPD” and “Happy holidays.” The Local accepted a special delivery of handmade Christmas ornaments in a wooden crate from students at McDivitt Elementary School on Dec. 23. Carol Addeo, a teacher at the elementary school, presented the ornaments to SOA secretary and Sergeant Jim Ford. Every officer in the Local was given their very own ornament to take home and display on their Christmas trees.
Cherry Hill Local 176 stuffs the truck
Members of Cherry Hill Local 176 and its Superior Officer’s Association donated toys to the department’s “Stuff the Truck” event to help underprivileged children receive gifts this holiday season. Orangetheory Fitness collected the toys in its lobby until Dec. 15, when members gathered all the gifts and delivered them to Angels Community Outreach, an organization that seeks to provide for people who are financially in need.
Locals team up to give children holiday presents
In a combined effort, Hunterdon County Local 188 and Raritan Township Local 337 shopped for toys, clothes and other gifts for over a dozen families on Dec. 18. The Locals selected underprivileged families with multiple children to show their support during the holidays. The event was sponsored by Fred Beans Toyota of Flemington, Grape Expectations and anonymous donors.
Local 327 members make personal toy donation
Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Local 327 members donated more than 60 new toys — including dolls, figurines and a toy guitar — for underprivileged children on Dec. 18. The toys were provided to Deirdre’s House (Morris County’s Child Advocacy Center) to be distributed to the children.
Neptune Township Local 74 donates blankets to nursing home
Neptune Township Local 74 members were outside a nursing home with white bags filled with red and white patterned blankets on Dec. 22. With the help of the department’s firefighters, members delivered 80 holiday blankets to keep residents warm this winter. The blankets were donated by the Local to the residents at Neptune Gardens for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Toms River Local 137 donates to children’s hospital
Toms River Local 137 hosted a drive-by dropoff to donate toys and gifts to Children’s Specialized Hospital in December. The Local, which usually partners with Cathy Fortunato of the Toms River Hockey Club, altered its annual event to avoid a large gathering during the global pandemic. Although the Local was unable to bring its Santa to the hospital to hand out gifts, members were still able to raise more than $1,600 in gift cards so hospital staff could purchase more toys for the inpatient and outpatient kids in the facility.
Local 361 donates toys for the holidays
West New York Local 361 donated wrapped gifts in colorful holiday bags to children and their families this holiday season, with the help of donations by members and residents in the town. The gifts were distributed by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) before Christmas.