Families displaced by Hurricane Sandy will enjoy an early Christmas on Sunday as the Ocean City police union distributes more than $11,000 in toys and clothing at the Ocean City Sports and Civic Center.
The Ocean City Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) Local No. 61 teamed up with trainers, doctors and staff members of Philadelphia professional sports teams to gather the contributions.
Ocean City chiropractor Frank Brady helped organize a collection effort ($6,700) among teams that included the Eagles and Flyers. The local PBA used money ($4,500) raised at a Restaurants for Relief fundraiser that included Charlie's and Gregory's in Somers Point.
A group that included representatives of the PBA and the volunteer storm relief group OCNJ CARE, including Fourth Ward captain Joe Ney, went on a recent shopping spree at Walmart to purchase the toys and clothes. The group included Joe's wife, Terri Ney, and Ocean City High School graduates Mia Thompkins, Stevie Zellers, Jackie Adams, Kelsey and Caitlin Green.
"Shoppers were stopping to take pictures of our crew and the gifts we were buying," Ney said.
OCNJ CARE had a list of need requests and will help distribute the toys and gifts to families in need on Sunday at the Civic Center.
The Ocean City PBA had made earlier donations of $2,500 apiece to OCNJ CARE and to downtown Ocean City merchants in the recovery effort after Sandy left widespread damage across the island on Oct. 29. The PBA also sponsored its annual Toy Giveaway, in which all Ocean City Primary School students receive a holiday gift.
Ney said that Brady reached out to OCNJ CARE soon after the storm and arranged to have Eagles and Flyers clothing, shoes and merchandise sent to Ocean City school children who had lost everything. In a follow-up conversation, Brady mentioned that he was going to get his associates in the medical field to donate money for Christmas presents.
Ney said that at the time, OCNJ CARE "had its hands full and had not moved on to how to handle Christmas toys in the first week after the storm hit."
Police Chief Chad Callahan told Ney that the Ocean City PBA could be a vehicle to accept the donation, translate the funds and purchase the toys for Ocean City families.
"Frank and I never really spoke about it again, until this past Tuesday evening, when he called me and said I'd be receiving $6,700 in checks via Fed Ex," Ney said. "The next day, the checks arrived."
"The Ocean City police delivered and unpacked each and every gift at the Civic Center, to be distributed to Ocean City families through OCNJ CARE," Ney said. "It was a great experience to be a part of, and it all started with Frank."