Navy civilians, Sailors donate toys to more than 250 NJ children

NAWCAD Lakehurst personnel from the Lakehurst side of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst joined Santa to deliver toys to more than 250 local Head Start children as part of the 42nd annual Navy Lakehurst Giving Tree. (Photo by NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs)

For the 42nd year, Navy civilians and Sailors from the Lakehurst side of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst came together to donate toys to children from low-income families as part of the Navy Lakehurst Giving Tree Program.

More than 250 children from the Toms River, Manchester, Berkeley and Brick Head Start programs received a requested toy from their holiday wish list.

The gifts were donated by volunteers from the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst and the Naval Support Activity.

“Each year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of the Lakehurst community and their willingness to support this program,” said Allison Barrow, NAWCAD Lakehurst Public Affairs officer who serves as the Giving Tree Program coordinator.

“This year we were not only able to add the Brick Township Head Start center, but had employees asking to buy a child’s requested gift long after all the gift tags had been given out,” said Barrow. “It’s a true testament to their dedication to supporting the local community.”

Santa Claus and his “elves” visited the Head Start centers the week of Dec. 11 to deliver the gifts.

“We are extremely grateful that you included the Brick center in the Giving Tree Program this year,” said Dana Mancini with the Brick Head Start center. “The excitement and joy could be felt by everyone as the children were given their gifts and we are very thankful for the experience.”

Along with opening their presents, the children posed for photos with Santa, which teachers said will be shown to their families.

“O.C.E.A.N., Inc. Head Start and the Lakehurst Giving Tree Program have had a long and successful relationship for about 30 years,” said Sharon Hopson, O.C.E.A.N., Inc. Head Start education coordinator.

“The generosity of the Lakehurst Giving Tree Program benefits our families and makes for a brighter holiday season,” said Hopson. “Our parents, children and staff are very appreciative of all the NAWCAD Lakehurst employees for the generosity and dedication to helping our children enjoy Christmas and a special visit from Santa.”

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