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County sheriff’s department partners with Burlington City police to distribute toys, household goods

Toys and items will be distributed to children and families in need

Special to The Sun: The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with Burlington City police to distribute new toys and household goods as part of the latter’s community policing initiatives.

The Burlington County Sheriff’s Department is partnering with the Burlington City Police Department to distribute new toys and household goods as part of the local force’s community policing initiatives.

The new partnership kicked off on Nov. 4 when the sheriff’s department delivered a large batch of new toys and household goods to Burlington City Police headquarters. The local force plans to distribute the toys and items to local children and families in need.

The toys and goods are donated to the Sheriff’s Department’s Community Services Unit by individuals and businesses. The sheriff originally began collecting toys and other items for its annual Holiday Toy Drive, but it has expanded to a year-round operation that has aided thousands of families.

“The Toy Drive started as a way to ensure that all of the county’s children received a toy or gift during the holidays regardless of their circumstances,” said Burlington County Undersheriff Jim Kostoplis. “What we have discovered is that need exists year-round and our department could be a force to assist both children and families every day. Doing so is a way to build stronger ties between law enforcement and the communities we serve and protect, so we’re proud to continue this good work and now partner with Burlington City to expand it.”

The Burlington City Police Department already has an active community policing program. Throughout the pandemic, the department partnered with the Burlington City School District, Volunteers of America and the Sheriff’s Department to distribute nearly 50,000 lunches to local families during the shutdown. The department has also given out holiday dinners around Thanksgiving and organized drive-thru food pantries for food insecure families.

“As police officers we take an oath to protect and serve, and that service does not need to be limited to just apprehending those who violate the law,” said Burlington City Police Chief John Fine. “We want our police department and our police officers to help assist our communities, and we’re very appreciative of these donated goods. It will go a long way to helping families in need and hopefully make their upcoming holidays a little better and brighter.”

Burlington City is the first police department in Burlington County that the sheriff’s department has distributed toys and other items with, but the department’s leadership hopes to be able to expand the initiative to include more police departments in the future.

“We’re thankful to have partners like Amazon and CVS provide us assistance for our Toy Drive and year-round distributions, but we know local police departments also have officers who meet and interact with families that could use a helping hand,” said Kostoplis. “These kinds of partnerships allow us to help more families and build stronger communities.”

Burlington County Sheriff Anthony Basantis, who is retiring at the end of the year, said collections for the annual Toy Drive are also now underway. Donation boxes have been distributed to more than 50 locations throughout the county, including government offices, local police departments, courthouses, community centers and businesses. A complete list is available on the Sheriff’s Facebook page.

Businesses or offices interested in hosting a donation box can contact the Sheriff’s Community Services Unit at (609) 265-3788 or by emailing jcragg@co.burlington.nj.us.

“As members of law enforcement, we take a lot of pride in serving Burlington County’s communities and the toy drive has become a very special part of that service,” Basantis said. “This is our 27th year organizing it and we’re hoping it will once again become the biggest yet.”

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