New Jersey toy drive a highly-organized success

By Juliette Laaka | Dec 22, 2012
Photo by: Laurie Kegley Children play inside the East Keansburg Fire Station 5 in New Jersey.

Returning home after many years following devastating storm will change the look and feel of a place, however once well-known or beloved.

On Dec. 15, Sgt. Timothy Hoppe of the Thomaston Police Department visited his New Jersey shore hometown of Middletown to lift the spirits of families affected by Superstorm Sandy that ravaged the area in late October.

"It was different, not as I remember it," he said. "I couldn't believe the destruction and the empty houses."

Hoppe arrived with his mother, Jo Ann, and son, Hunter, with 2,000 presents for Bayshore area children.

The gifts were given by Midcoast residents for Hoppe's Maine to Middletown toy drive, joining with his friend Capt. Kyle Bracken of the East Keansburg Fire Station 5.

In four hours, volunteers at the fire station wrapped the gifts and prepared them for a party to celebrate the season and present families with the gifts. Hoppe said the entire operation was highly organized.

Hoppe brought 50 pounds of lobster to the event to share with volunteers that were donated by Friendship lobsterman Keith Simmons.

"It was great," Hoppe said.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at

Sgt. Timothy Hoppe unloads Christmas trees from Maine in New Jersey, part of his Maine to Middletown mission of spreading holiday cheer. (Photo by: Laurie Kegley)
Sgt. Timothy Hoppe with his friend, Capt. Kyle Bracken. (Photo by: Laurie Kegley)
Volunteers work to wrap donated presents for families affected by Superstorm Sandy. (Photo by: Laurie Kegley)
Toys and trees fill the 20-foot trailer Hoppe brought to new Jersey. (Photo by: Laurie Kegley)
Gifts fill a room in the firehouse.
Comments (10)
Posted by: Paige Bossow | Dec 26, 2012 06:18

What a wondeful story.  Middletown NJ is my home town and I know alot of the surrounding area was devasted!!! 

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Dec 26, 2012 05:23

"For God so LOVED......."

Posted by: Cathy Clough | Dec 25, 2012 18:41

Because of all your efforts in promoting this amazing cause and the generosity of this caring community, I'm sure there were a lot of children with smiles on their faces this Christmas day.  

Posted by: Russell Garfield York | Dec 25, 2012 07:06

i want to send out a big thank you to tim and all his helpers this is the way it should be

Posted by: Bill Packard | Dec 22, 2012 19:49

Very nice.  It's great to be able to give back to your community in any way you can.

Posted by: Bill Packard | Dec 22, 2012 19:47

Very nice.  It's great to be able to give back to your community in any way you can.

Posted by: Matthew Levin | Dec 22, 2012 16:54

What a kind thing to do... you are certainly one of the "good ones"

Posted by: JoAnn Hoppe | Dec 22, 2012 16:20

Actually this toy drive grew so big they had to move to the Belford Independent Fire Company down the road to accommodate all of the gifts !  The folks "Down the Shore" send their most heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of the people in Maine,  who so generously donated items to help make this a brighter Christmas for the kids.  Just like the Maine song says...'neighbors helping neighbors'...the true meaning of Christmas !  Thank you one and all ! 

Posted by: Jennie Demmons | Dec 22, 2012 14:55

Yes, this certainly is the true meaning of Christmas.. You GO Tim!!!

Merry Christmas every body!!!

Posted by: Carrie Adams | Dec 22, 2012 11:19

The true meaning of Christmas.

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