Maine to Middletown mission to spread holiday cheer
Thomaston — Thomaston Police Sgt. Tim Hoppe is returning to his New Jersey hometown to bestow some Christmas spirit from Maine in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The Jersey shore town of Middletown, and the surrounding Bayshore area was hard hit by the super storm last month, now struggling to rebuild communities and aid displaced families.
Children, fearing Santa Claus would forget them as their homes no longer exist, began to bring letters to an intact home in the neighborhood.
Hoppe joined his friend, Capt. Kyle Bracken of the East Keansburg Fire Station 5 in New Jersey and started a toy drive.
"A $1 gift is just as good as a $100 gift," he said.
Hoppe hopes to fill a 20-foot enclosed trailer with toys to give area children. Hoppe, Bracken, and Knox County Sheriff's Department Deputies Nathaniel Jack and John Palmer will unload and distribute the gifts.
Hoppe will make the eight-hour drive with his mother, JoAnn and son, Hunter. It will be Hunter's first visit to his father's hometown.
Hoppe said the Keansburg boardwalk, which had been standing for 100 years and was a landmark of youthful memories, was completely destroyed.
"The piles of wood are as tall as this building," he said, and added the boardwalk is scheduled to be rebuilt and open for Easter.
Amazingly, Hoppe's childhood home was not destroyed, situated in a two-block section that was not razed.
"It will be interesting — it will probably look like a war zone," he said. "It's tough, but I'm sure they'll rebuild it tough."
Donations can be dropped off at the Thomaston Police Department, Rockland Police Department, Camden Police Department, Knox County Sheriff's Office, Auto Master Collision Center in Spruce Head and Brooks Trap Mill in Thomaston. Hoppe would like to have everything packed and ready for transport Dec.14.
"I've got the trailer ready to go and we want to fill it up — It's a big goal," he said. Hoppe hopes to provide toys for 2,000 to 3,000 children.
Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.