The food drive was part of the all-volunteer organization’s annual Santa Runs event, which began in 1998, and since 2008 has included a food drive collection outreach as a way to help members of the community help each other.
“It was a complete success as the community really enjoyed the updated Santa sleigh,” said AHFAS Chief Lance Hubeny. “The faces on the children were priceless as Santa arrived on their street.”
For four nights, Santa and his elves from the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad visited parts of the borough using a newly updated sled powered by one of the squad’s ambulances. Santa stopped to visit with families, take pictures and listen to wish lists from the children. Along the way, the team collected non-perishable food items to go to the local food pantry at the United Methodist Church. Squad members then delivered the goods to the food bank Dec. 9.
There, former Atlantic Highlands Mayor Helen Marchetti, who manages the food pantry, gave the members of the squad a tour of the facility and told them that they serve 14 to 18 families of the three days each week it operates. And even with the donation from Atlantic Highlands residents through the Santa Runs, the shelves still need restocking.
“For me, it made me proud to be the chief of the squad and represent the all the members as we delivered the over 1,800 items,” Hubeny said.
To that end, the squad has also launched an internal food drive to help support the food pantry mission. Anyone wishing to help contribute to this additional push can call the squad’s non-emergency number at (732) 291-8118 or call the food pantry at the United Methodist Church directly at (732) 291-0485.