Burlington residents will have the opportunity to help out people in need for the holidays at this year’s township tree lighting.
Now in its fourth year, the Heritage Commission of Burlington Township’s Annual Toy Drive is set to return for the Dec. 5 tree holiday lighting at Green Acres Park on Old York Road, Burlington.
The holiday event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Dan Carducci, Chairman for the Heritage Commission, said that nonprofit all-volunteer group will serve as the host to the annual toy drive collection at the tree lighting event.
The Heritage Commission encourages people to bring a gift for local families in need.
With the annual event scheduled to return this year, Carducci explained that the outreach initiative stemmed among the heritage commission to not only help those less fortunate during the holidays, but aspired to continually grow the event as well.
“About three years ago, we decided that there is always a need to help out more in the community,” Carducci said. “The tree lighting is nice and so is the essay contest, but we wanted to do more to give back. So, we started our annual toy drive.”
The Heritage Commission chairman said that since the toy drive’s inception, it has helped more families and youths each year. In 2016, Carducci said the group provided gifts to 25 families and 60 youths. In 2017, the collected gifts intake helped 30 families and 75 youths. In 2018, the outreach effort helped 35 families and 84 youths. The chairman said he hopes that the group can attain even more gifts at this year’s event.
“Every year, we have increased [the amount of collected gifts],” Carducci said. “We are trying to hit the ground running and do a bit more if we can.”
Carducci explained that the annual gift collection is aimed to not only lend a helping hand to families during the holiday season, but to serve a significant purpose in the Burlington community as well.
He said that for the past three years, the local group’s efforts have also had a positive impact on Burlington families when they arrive with the gifts.
“There are so many families, not only in the community, but everywhere that have hard times,” he said. “We at least try to give one day where they don’t have to think about the bad things going on whether it would be them, personally, or the community and state.
“I appreciate everything I have, so I want to do as much as I can to help other people to have that same appreciation. When the people come to pick the gifts up, it’s amazing to see their faces and their appreciation. Knowing that sometimes there is a light. Even if it’s something small for one day out of the year, to know that you are not alone and that people are there to help you,” he added.
In addition to the toy drive collection at the tree lighting, Carducci said there are other outreach efforts to help out people in need this time of year. “Trees of Giving” are set up around the area such as the lobby at the Burlington Township Municipal building on Old York Road and Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant at 1414 N. Route 130.
The trees contain paper ornaments, each marked with a “Boy” or “Girl” label and a coinciding age range below. The concept of the “Tree of Giving” is for a person to take a paper ornament, pick a gift suited for the gender and age on it and drop the gift back at the tree’s location.
Carducci explained that the trees are a suitable outreach effort for people who may not be able to attend the tree lighting or want to do something ahead of time.