While the day after Thanksgiving is known as the start of the holiday shopping season, the New Jersey Devils helped fans get into the giving spirit. At Friday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings at Prudential Center, the team held its annual toy drive for Toys For Tots and collected donations for the Greater Newark Holiday Fund (GNHF).
The Devils partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program to help collect and distribute gifts to children in the area. Representatives from USMC, Company G 2/25 from Picatinny Arsenal, based in Dover, NJ, accepted toys from fans throughout The Rock.
First Sergeant Chris Piazza said tonight’s drive “is one of our biggest collections of the year.” Piazza is the local Toys For Tots Coordinator for northern New Jersey. He and his eight person staff were on hand volunteering their time at tonight’s game.
“Last year we gave away 160,000 toys in northern New Jersey,” Piazza said. Piazza’s region extends north to the state line with New York, west to the Pennsylvania state line and as far south as Trenton.
Popular toys given included board games like “Battleship” and “Guess Who?” dolls, as well as stuffed animals and, to no surprise, toys from Disney’s “Frozen.”
In addition to the Toys For Tots collection, the Devils and Prudential Center also supported the GNHF, which uses donations to support 11 agencies that provide key services in northern New Jersey. The GNHF collects donations throughout the year with a focus on the holiday season, and tonight’s 50/50 raffle at the game benefitted the fund with a donation of $7,654.
At the start of the second intermission, the GNHF was featured as the Community Assist Group of the Game. Representatives were featured on the jumbotron and collected donations on the concourse.
This year marks the 77th annual campaign for the GNHF, which last year raised almost $350,000. The money raised helps organizations including the Newark Day Center, Jewish Family Service of Metro West, Salvation Army Services and more.