You can help fellow Ocean County residents and their children this holiday season by contributing to the annual toy and food drive hosted by the Ocean County Sheriff's Department.

Late Ocean County Sheriff William L.Polhemus (Sheriff Dept)

Acting Sheriff William Sommeling said the annual tradition began nearly 30 years ago by the late Sheriff William Polhemus.

"We run this annual food and toy drive to help people that are having a hard time that unfortunately can't do it for themselves because they can't afford it. If somebody didn't do these things, you know, they probably wouldn't have anything", explains Sommeling.

Unwrapped toys and nonperishable food items can be dropped off at bins set up at county buildings and libraries including the County Connection at the Ocean County Mall. Arrangements also can be made to drop off donations at the Robert J. Miller Airpark in Berkeley Township by contacting Sergeant Greene and Sergeant Giardina at 732-341-7928.

Anyone wishing to donate new toys for children ages 1 to 12 are being asked not to wrap them. And the last day to donate is Dec. 20.

Sommeling said they're expecting to help 300 families this year and he said he's certain the tradition will continue even when the new Sheriff takes office in January. "The Board of Chosen Freeholders have supported this program since its inception, for all these many years and the new Sheriff-Elect Michael Mastronardy is very much in favor of continuing this program when he comes on board', he explained.

Anyone wishing to receive toys must register by filling out the Sheriff's Toy Drive Application Form which can be accessed from the Ocean County Sheriff's Department home page or by contacting Lori Howardson at the Sheriff's Office at 732-929-4756.