Elks motorcycle committee, wrestling coalition team up for toy drive

Drive-by event will take place Dec. 13 in Wrightstown

Holiday magic is a real thing.

Think about it: How else can you explain this time of year, when the best is brought out in a large chunk of the population? For one reason or another, people  are willing to give the shirt off their backs to those in need during the holiday season.

The Deptford Elks, specifically the motorcycle committee, are no different, though they do their part year round to help their neighbors. For Thanksgiving, the Elks distribute turkeys and food to needy families. On Veterans Day, the motorcycle committee teams up with the veterans committee for a group ride to veterans’  houses, where wooden flags and other gifts are given to those who served our nation.

Christmas, and the ensuing holiday season, are no different.

Andy Pagano, an Elk and chairman of the motorcycle committee, will host a drive-by toy donation this year on Dec 13, from noon to 2 p.m., at Kelly’s Bar in Wrightstown.

Though the physical donation spot for that particular event is outside of Deptford, there are plenty of ways to get involved to help families in the 08096 zip code. For one, Pagano recommends reaching out to the Elks via Facebook at Elks Lodge #2708 – Deptford, NJ. A simple message to the group will result in a scheduled time for a dropoff or the possible adoption of a family in need.

Not Facebook savvy? No problem. You can call Pagano directly at (856) 718-5470 and he will give all the information needed to make a difference this holiday season.

This year, the Elks partnered with the United Wrestling Coalition, a professional group based in Burlington County. According to Pagano, the UWC offered to do a wrestling event to raise awareness of the annual toy drive, but it was canceled due to COVID. 

Still wanting to help, the UWC adapted and created the motorcycle drive-by donation event. 

“We’re trying to fulfill the list and give extra to kids on the toy drive,” Pagano explained. “Hopefully we get a nice turnout up there. We’re really thankful for the United Wrestling Coalition for doing this. We usually have a breakfast with Santa every year; this kind of filled in place for it.”

Pagano estimates 2020 to be one of the biggest years to date for the toy drive, with 20 families and north of 53 kids for whom to shop.

“I’ve seen a lot of people step up to the plate,” he said of finding donors. “It makes me feel really good, makes me feel there’s a lot of good people out in the world.”

The Elks and UWC are looking specifically for gifts to children 12 and older, as well as non-perishable food items. Cash donations and gift cards are appreciated, too. It’s best to reach out to Pagano or the Elks to coordinate whom to shop for and where to drop off donations.

The holidays can be stressful, but Pagano knows in his heart of hearts that his group can assist those who need it most this holiday season.

“This is what we do as Elks: We help our community.”