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BLOOMFIELD, NJ -- Members of the Bloomfield Police Department made the holidays special for over 300 Bloomfield children from 144 families at this year’s annual toy drive. Each of the children were given a bag full of new toys and gifts at the Bloomfield Municipal Courtroom on Tuesday evening with a guest appearance by Santa Claus. Their families were also given ShopRite cards, and families with older children were given Target and Visa Cards, funds for which were donated by the community, and especially the United Way of Bloomfield.
The distributed toys were donated by local businesses, schools and residents, and purchased with funds contributed by local businesses and charitable organizations. Sponsors included: Bloomfield Youth Aid Foundation, Hot Bagels Abroad, ECRB Towing, LeRoy Jones, the Bloomfield Mayor and Township Council, the Fischman Family, Clark Ave. Crew, the Tice Family, Brookdale School, Lummus Technology, the Accent Group, the Bloomfield Cruisers, Levandoski-Grillo Funeral Home and Universal Technical Institute.
“We in Bloomfield take the season of giving very seriously, with all Township departments working to improve the holidays for our residents,” said Mayor Michael Venezia. “Our residents and our incredible police department have made sure that each family always has new toys for the holidays and I am so proud to live in a community that gives back. I would like to thank Director DeMaio for his leadership and Captain George Ricci in particular for his outstanding work organizing this event, as well as other community outreach programs year-round.”
Santa was played by Bloomfield resident Steve Tice, who has begun a tradition of dressing as Santa Claus and providing hot chocolate and cookies to neighborhood children at his Bolten Place home. In recent years, he and his wife and children have led neighborhood present collection drives.
“Having a strong relationship with our community is a top priority of our police department, and our staff genuinely cares about this community, which is why we look forward to helping those in need every year,” said Director of Public Safety Samuel DeMaio. “Our re-emphasis on community policing in recent years has resulted in consistently decreasing crime rates. Through events like our annual Toy Drive, our residents get to know our officers in friendly settings. I would like to thank Captain Ricci for putting together this event, Lieutenant Naomi Zepeda, and all of our Youth Aid and Community Police officers for keeping this Bloomfield Police tradition alive. Also, thank you to all of the local businesses and individuals who donated gifts to make this possible.”
The Youth Aid Division monitors safety at Bloomfield schools and throughout the community. Bloomfield Police Officers referred to as School Resource Officers are assigned to Bloomfield High School and Bloomfield Middle School throughout the school years, and work hand in hand with school administrators as a resource to aid students whenever the need arises. The Youth Aid Division has organized and administered the Holiday Toy Drive annually for over 20 years.