NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) – A corner of Newark is channeling the North Pole during the Essex County Sheriff’s Office’s annual toy drive.
“It’s a labor of love and these officers look forward to it every year,” said Sheriff Armando Fontoura. “We’ve been doing this about 30 years since I’ve been here, and every year it becomes toy central.”
Deputies loaded up their sleighs, ready to deliver dozens of bags filled with toys to kids in need all over the city and beyond. They are stopping at 35 different locations, the first being Fourteenth Avenue Elementary School. Many toys and warm winter gear such as coats and boots were donated by officers and other employees of the department.
“We have some folks who buy very expensive coats and boots and bicycles they give to kids, very generous,” said Fontoura.
“I always say that our students here at Fourteenth Avenue are the most beautiful students and children in Newark,” said Principal Armando Cepero. “[Sheriff Fontoura] sees the same vision that we have and the great love and outpouring of joy in the season of giving, and he does that through his department incredibly well.”
It’s about more than the fleeting feeling of Christmas magic. For Fontoura, it’s about making that feeling of warmth happen every day of the year.
“We make sure we connect with our community and get them to understand that we are a part of you, not apart from you,” said Fontoura.