“This Christmas season the Charity Kings – My partner Darryl and I are helping families in the Asbury Park, Long Branch, Neptune area and beyond with our Santa Toy Shop on Friday December 22nd from 6 – 9 right here in Asbury Park.
“We collect toys and clothing and gift cards all year round, and then we have the Santa Toy Shop open a few days before Christmas, and the families can come and freely shop for the gifts they would like their children to have. It’s not like a pantry where the volunteers pick the gifts for you and you only get a gift or two. Our families leave with basically shopping carts filled with gifts for their families for Christmas, that they themselves picked out.
“I had this idea basically since I was a kid. When I grew up I was in foster care, and my foster family had to go to these toy drives to receive our gifts. Sometimes we would only get one or two gifts to open, and sometimes it wasn’t even something we really wanted. So I always had a dream to do something like this for others, to give the kids a lot of gifts, and let them have what they like.
“I was three when my mother passed away. My father had a problem with drugs, so at first, my sisters and I lived at a shelter, until they finally moved us to a foster family. My sisters and I went back home with my dad when I was a teenager, but he still had problems with drugs, so since I was the oldest, I had to basically become the mother to my younger sisters and stepsisters. I was still a teenager trying to get through school and life myself. So instead of going to school every day like normal kids, I was home a lot taking care of my siblings.
“About 8 years ago I found myself in a domestic violence relationship, so I took my daughters and moved to Asbury Park to start fresh. Moving to Asbury Park was the best thing that ever happened to me. That was when I met Darryl, and that was when I met his family and saw how much they helped their community and how healthy they were. And I started thinking, ‘What can I do to help too?’ So that was when I started with the Santa Toy Shop, as well as the prom dress giveaways I do for the high school students.
“At our Santa Toy Shop, we have different departments. We have different toys, books, clothes, pajamas and even things for the parents to pick out for themselves. It is held at the VFW in Asbury Park.
“For the setup, the fire department comes and helps us, people from the National Guard as well, and Toys for Tots came last year to help us. Usually the night before we are just like Santa elves, setting everything up, and then on the day of, we have a Christmas Party, food, music, and then the parents and families come in and shop for their gifts, and we also have gift wrapping tables so they can wrap their toys and everything. We have families leave with carts full of stuff. This will be our fourth year.
“We still need more toys – preferably new, clothing, gift cards. But we especially have a need for items for older kids. Donators tend to forget the older kids. We usually spend all of our own money to get the older kids things they would like. We also need volunteers to help us set up the day of.
“But this whole thing has been such a blessing. The proudest moment of my life was 2 years ago when I was nominated for a Community Change Maker award. So I was invited to the white house and received the Community Change Maker award by Barak Obama. Michelle Obama was there, Oprah, and others were there as well. Just all of this is such an amazing experience.”
(POTJS Note: To learn more or to contact Sherrice – the subject of this feature – to help in any way, please see comment below for website link and contact info)
~ Asbury Park