On Wednesday night, parents of children who qualify for assistance through the Somerset Hills YMCA will come by to pick up gifts for their kids that were donated by police in Bernards Township and Bernardsville.
"They're in tears because they're so grateful that the community thinks about them," said Mirna Mazick, the YMCA's coordinator for financial assistance, in describing the parents' reaction.
The 60-plus toys selected by the police officers and their families — with a few donations from the Bernards Township Department of Parks and Recreation — will go to children in Bernardsville, Basking Ridge, Warren, Far Hills, Peapack-Gladstone and Bedminster — basically, the Somerset Hills YMCA's coverage area.
There is a myth that no one is needy in Somerset Hills, said
Bernards Township Police Officer Ray Gizienski pointed out that some families have been added to that list this year, after getting hit with bills for thousands of dollars to clean up storm damage after Hurricane Sandy.
"We started this because we really wanted to give back to the Somerset Hills," he said. PBA Local 357 in Bernards Township and PBA 365 in Bernardsville collected the donations.
"Our officers care about the community every day," said Bernardsville Patrol Officer Mike Grosso. However, he said that sometimes doesn't come across.
"Many of our officers have children so if it lights up the faces of kids, that's the reward we are looking for," Grosso said.
Mazick said there will be a little get-together for parents on Wednesday, with hot chocolate and a holiday atmosphere, where they they can collect gifts that have been selected for their children. She said that the toys first go to families that are eligible for 100 percent assistance from the YMCA, with others to also qualify.
For members of the YMCA who want to give to the community, there is a "giving tree" in the lobby of the YMCA's main facility at 140 Mount Airy Road in Basking Ridge, she said.