Holiday toy drive makes everyone merry

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ROSELLE, NJ — It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas when the borough had its fifth annual holiday toy drive on Friday, Dec. 16, at Central Park NJ, a sports bar and restaurant on North Wood Avenue in Roselle. Hosted by DJ Chill X, the night was filled with great music, food and plenty of people dancing, along with an abundance of gifts donated to children and families in need for the holiday season. People such as 4th Ward Councilwoman Cindy Thomas, recreation leader Eugenia Simms, 5th Ward Councilman John Fortuna and Mayor Donald Shaw attended the event. The annual drive was sponsored this year by the nonprofit Vet4U and Mister East Club and Lounge. Shaw’s assistant, Nidian Ruiz, helped to organize and encourage donations for the drive, and worked with local schools and churches to put together a list of families who are most in need of donations during the holiday season.

“This would be my fifth year doing this, and I must say it is the best feeling in the world, seeing the children smile. It fills my heart so much,” Ruiz told Union County LocalSource.

Vet4U has been involved with the drive for two years, helping by reaching out to the veteran community of Roselle to assist in the toy drive.

“The Roselle mayor reached out to Vet4U, knowing that we would be able to not only reach the Roselle community, but more specifically our veterans and military community as well,” Vet4U founding member Janna Williams told LocalSource. “We are always willing to help those in need. It brings me pure joy to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to building our community and working together to bring happiness to others.”

Fortuna made his presence felt during the night, showing his support for the drive.

“Tonight is a great evening. I came to help children and families in need during this holiday season,” Fortuna told LocalSource. “I’ve been a part of this drive for four years, and I always believe that it’s important to give back and remember the holiday spirit during these uncertain times that we live in.”

The mayor was a constant presence throughout the night, reaffirming his goal of helping children, as he has done at past drives as well.

“This is my third year being a part of this drive. Last year, we helped 200 families. This year, we are looking to help over 300 families in need during this holiday season,” Shaw told LocalSource.

The night also prompted members of nonprofit organizations to speak on the initiative and their admiration for those involved in helping so many families through the drive.

“I live and work in this town, so giving back and investing in children here is always a plus,” Johnathan Frazier, a member of the nonprofit organization Coalition of Altruism, told LocalSource. “There are some kids that wouldn’t have a Christmas this year without this event, so to see so many people supporting and giving back is always great.”

In addition to the toy drive, there was also a surprise announcement during the night, celebrating the efforts and accomplishments of the man behind the music, DJ Chill X. Presented by the mayor, DJ Chill X received a proclamation for his contributions and his efforts to keep house music alive for the past 20 years. DJ Chill X has played music at the toy drive for the past two years.

“It was such an honor to receive the award; it’s something I never expected,” DJ Chill X told LocalSource. “I hope this is just the first of many for people that are deserving for their community work.”

DJ Chill X has vowed to help Shaw with anything that helps the community.

“When Mayor Donald Shaw took office, he was about empowering the community,” DJ Chill X said. “I told the mayor that if there is anything he needs to help better our town, let me know, as I want to be a part of it.”

Photos Courtesy of Yolanda Mac/MizMacMarketing