It was pouring in Bayville on Saturday but that did not stop residents from dropping off toys at the IGA to make Christmas a bit brighter for children whose families are experiencing hard times. The Ladies Auxiliary from Bayville American Legion Robert H. Spittel Post 1285, worked for weeks on the Toys for Tots drive.
Auxiliary member Amy Watson had run a community food drive in March with her family. As a member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society with St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church, and also a volunteer at the Village Church Food Pantry, she said she knew of so many residents in Bayville that were in need. She led the toy drive, which is the auxiliary’s first.
“It has been unbelievable how generous people in our community have been,” she said. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
The Bayville veterans usually host a dinner dance but had to cancel it this year due to Covid. Watson said the veterans wanted to give something back to the community.
Vincent Libertini, the commander of the legion, said he was surprised by how many Bayville families are in need. “This was an eye opener for me,” he said. “Every time we ask the community to do something for us they do. We want to serve our community.”
Tables at the post were filled with the donated toys, which auxiliary members had separated by type and age. One table was overflowing with board games, another had all kinds of sports equipment and there were more dolls than could be counted.
“This is a fabulous experience for me,” said Lucia Marino, who joined the auxiliary three years ago. “I joined the auxiliary because my Dad fought in World War II. It’s great knowing we can help people in our own community.”
Watson cited her father, legion member Richard Bathie, as the reason why she joined the auxiliary. Bathie was on hand to help separate the toys.
The toys were packed in bags by auxiliary members, of which there are 25. Watson said volunteers will deliver the toys. There were 114 children on the auxiliary’s list.
“Christmas has been a special time for my family since I was younger,” she said. “I hope that by doing this every child has the experience of waking up to gifts. All of these things feed my soul.”