Massive amounts of gifts and toys, including bikes, stuffed animals, board games and figurines, filled the George Bush Senior Center in the Old Bridge Township Municipal Complex. Old Bridge Local 127 members, children and families smiled from ear to ear as they enjoyed face painting, a live DJ, games, dinner, an ice cream truck from Friendly’s and presents from Santa Claus.
The 25th annual Local 127 Cops for Kids holiday party provided hundreds of gifts for local families struggling to buy presents for their children.
“We try to offset some of the things that maybe their families can’t do because they just don’t have the means to do it,” explained Local 127 State Delegate Vinny Galgano. “We try to give these kids something to look forward to each year.”
Galgano and 25 Local 127 members made nearly 90 children feel special by presenting holiday gifts to them and their families. He said it is many members’ favorite event.
“That’s our biggest volunteering turnout,” Galgano confided. “They volunteer for this one because they love to see the kids and the smiles.”
The 2021 holiday party was moved back indoors after being held outdoors in 2020 due to COVID. While the cold weather prompted children to get their toys and leave last year, members were determined to bring the cheerful and engaging event back to normal.
“We want to get back to the kids having fun,” Galgano shared. “We wanted it more controlled, where people can actually hang out for a few hours, enjoy it and finally be able to socialize with people.”
While members, children and families had the opportunity to interact at the in-person event, the party wouldn’t have been possible without the help of local businesses that donated funds, gifts and food. Galgano explained how the businesses have stepped up over the years to provide more donations for children of Old Bridge residents.
“Instead of sending a couple toys from the employees, [the businesses] actually conducted their own toy drives,” Galgano described. “They’ve taken it upon themselves and given us massive amounts of donations.”
To organize the best Cops for Kids party yet, Jim Ford, the SOA secretary of the PBA, dedicated a tremendous amount of time to making phone calls and building relationships with sponsors.
“He’s a huge part of making this event successful,” Galgano praised.
Galgano knows the event was a success, because he saw the sparkle in the children’s eyes as they received their first, and possibly only, gift during the holiday season.
“It’s a great feeling that you could really put a big smile on these kids’ faces,” Galgano remarked. “And when you can finally give them something to light their face up.”