FREEHOLD – Freehold’s Olive Branch Lodge (the area’s 162 year old chapter of the Freemasons) have announced they will once again be holding their holiday brunch & toy drive for Freehold’s underprivileged children on December 16th.
“With all that our area has go through in the past several weeks, it’s more important than ever that we continue looking out for the well-being of our fellow man,” says lodge member Al Barbado. “And the fact that many of our largest donors happen to be the same residents who’ve already lost so much is truly inspirational and reflective of the type of community we live in.”
Area families referred by local churches and synagogues will again be invited into the masonic lodge at 2 Dutch Lane in Freehold Borough to receive a free meal, festive holiday entertainment, and the one thing all children adore this time of year – presents. Since the masons began the Olive Branch Lodge No. 16 Annual Holiday Masonic Toy Drive in 2008, they have delivered gifts to hundreds of Freehold-area children as well as provided bulk toy donations to the following pediatric units: High Point Schools (Morganville), The Ronald McDonald House (Long Branch), Jersey Shore University Medical Center (Neptune), Monmouth Medical Center (Long Branch), Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (New Brunswick), Children’s Specialized Hospital (New Brunswick), St. Barnabus (West Orange), CentraState Medical Center (Freehold), Division of Youth & Family Services, Northern Monmouth County (Red Bank)
In addition to private donations, several Freehold and area businesses (such as the Christmas Tree Shops, Colors to Go, 33 East Carwash, Especially For You Florist, Foodtown, Freeman’s Funeral Home, Five Below, Higgin’s Memorial Funeral Home, La Cipollina Ristorante, Shoprite, Sweet Lew's Hometown Cafe, etc.) have become regular contributors to this local community-focused charity. One of those businesses, Shoprite Liquors, has even become an instrumental partner in this annual event.
“We’ve been helping the Freemasons with this event since it started,” according to Shoprite Liquors manager Claude Taylor. “Having the guys outside with their collection table and bells have become somewhat of a tradition and the clanging of the bells definitely put our employee’s in the holiday spirit.”
For anyone interested in making a monetary or gift donation, a collection point will be set-up in front of the Shoprite Liquors location on Rt. 9 North in Freehold (next to Dunkin’ Donuts) every Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm until December 9th. Donors can also contact Dan Xavier (732.865.3441 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange an in-home donation pick-up if desired.