To help less fortunate kids in the township, local officials have partnered with Acenda Integrated Health to begin a toy collection drive called The Spirit of the Holidays.
The drive will last until Friday, and donations can be dropped off at the township clerk’s office at 401 Main St. Families will receive the toys from Acenda on Dec. 12.
“I was looking for a toy collection drive to partner with, and I have a friend who works with Acenda who then sent me the information regarding the drive,” said township Treasurer Candice Pennewell. “This is our first time partnering with Acenda and it is amazing to work with them.
“They’re extremely easy to partner with and they let me know what to do,” she added. “We send the (collected) toys their way.”
Mantua has partnered with toy drives in the past, most notably Toys for Tots, but this year marks the first time the township is partnering with Acenda and its Spirit of the Holidays drive.
“Each year, Spirit of the Holidays provides toys and gifts for over 1,000 children and families served by Acenda throughout South Jersey,” says an advertisement for the drive on the township Facebook page.
“The parents are actually able to pick out the toys that they want for their children,” said Pennewell. “Other drives usually just give out a toy based on the kid’s age and gender, meaning they just end up with a random toy instead of one they really want.
“If I were in their shoes, it would be a really special experience for me.”
The donations themselves can range from toys for young children to those that even teenagers can use. As long as a toy is in new and unwrapped condition, it will be accepted. Though Spirit of the Holidays is a toy drive, gift cards that can be used for families to buy anything they need are also accepted, though they have to be boxed to separate them from the shuffle of toys.
Acenda Integrated Health is a provider with multiple locations in the South Jersey region. There are three in Sewell: Beacon Support Services, Pettirosso Garden Home and Outpost Partial Care.
Acenda will help families pick toys and gift cards from the drive, while the township will provide a place to collect them.
“We’re looking at kids that don’t have a lot,” said Pennewell. “So getting anything that can help is a huge deal for them.”