A charity toy/gift exchange took place this morning at the Galloway Community Services center at Glen by the Bay Monday morning, Dec. 17, and it all benefits the victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The Mussel Bar and Grille at the Revel donated about 150 items, including new, unwrapped toys for children throughout the area impacted by Sandy to the Galloway Community Services center, and Galloway Community Services reciprocated with a box of items for Revel’s Closet, a collection for Revel employees and their children hit hard by the storm. Revel’s Closet items are being collected and donated by Revel employees, and Galloway’s donation was a box of gently used toys and clothes.
The Mussel Bar’s donation was part of an effort by the District Hogs motorcycle group to collect toys for Sandy victims. Mussel Bar and Grille owner Robert Wiedmaier, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar and Eatery owner David Guas and Rogue 24 owner RJ Cooper put together the effort on National Cocoa Day, Dec. 12. Each owner offered a free chocolate dessert to anyone who donated toys to the effort.
Wiedmaier owns Mussel Barand Grille at the Revel in Atlantic City, and in Bethesda, Maryland. The Bayou Bakery is in Virginia, and Rogue 24 is in Washington, D.C.
On Monday morning, Wiedmaier’s wife, Polly Wiedmaier, and Mussel Bar and Grille at the Revel Manager Jennifer Lyon delivered the donations to Galloway Community Center.
“They’re all good friends. They ride motorcycles together and help each other’s charities,” Polly Wiedmaier said. “We left the boxes out through the weekend. We kept tweeting and Facebooking. We have at least 150 items here.”
“Every kid should have Christmas,” said Lyon, a lifelong Brigantine resident. “I live in Brigantine and I know a lot of people affected by the storm.”
Lyon was in Brigantine during the storm, and spoke about the uncertainty beyond her home at the height of the storm, and in the days after, as the barrier islands remained closed and a mandatory evacuation was in effect. She also said Atlantic City is fine in the aftermath.
“People are a little scared to come down,” Lyon said. “ … The Revel is fine. There was no damage.”
Some areas suffered more than others, including parts of Brigantine, the West Atlantic City portion of Egg Harbor Township, parts of Absecon and parts of Atlantic City.
According to Galloway Deputy Director of Public Works, Division of Community Services Beth Stasuk, out of a total of about 80 children who were in need, about 50 are still without gifts for the holidays, about 45 of which are students at the Texas Avenue School in Atlantic City.
“This means a lot,” Stasuk said. “It makes it possible to give children a nice Christmas. These are children who lost everything. They lost their beds, their kitchens. They may be living with their family in a hotel. It would be bad for this to happen any time, but during the holidays is much worse. There are situations where people who donated in the past might be the recipients of donations this year.”
Galloway Community Services was also expecting a donation from Rowan University later in the day. According to Stasuk, the Galloway Elks Lodge recently donated $200 for older children in need.