Belleville Legions donate toys to Camp Polite

American Legion Post 105 and Sons of the American Legion (SAL) Squadron 105, participating in an event run by Camp Polite, hosted a Christmas toy drive in December, collecting toys and items to be distributed in Belleville and Essex County.

As organizer Georgeann Polite noted, everyone who participated in this toy drive during this season of giving “went all out to do what they do best — support and continue to serve the community”.

Founded in 2010, Camp Polite is a youth group named after Leroy Polite Sr., and is dedicated to serving the community with the primary mission of helping to educate and cultivate the youth in a positive manner by providing activities, workshops and physical activities to promote leadership, teamwork and positive growth.

Unit 70 American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) member Polite, who also runs Camp Polite and is a friend of Post 105, approached SAL 105 in the fall about continuing to host an annual toy drive which had happened in years past at the Post by the Kevin Kennedy Civic Association. The SAL jumped at the opportunity to co-sponsor the event.

In an event Dec. 16, the Post hall had tables filled three or four deep with boxes of toys. In addition, health and beauty supplies and new clothes for the less fortunate were collected, with a focus on distributing toys that were sensitive to the needs of children that had sensory challenges or special needs.

With Sam Sbarra as a partner, major donors from the evening also included Gwendolyn Walston and the Sister Sharing and the Missionary Ministry programs of Second Baptist Church.

The next day, Camp Polite organizers helped to get the toys to those who needed them and to those who could distribute them the best. Carloads of items went from the Post to the Belleville Police Department, the Belleville Safe House (a shelter for domestic violence), the Special Dragons (a special-needs karate- instruction program) and to numerous local Belleville families, churches and food pantries.

In addition to the Camp Polite Toy Drive, the Post also sponsors annually a Toys-for Tots collection, which is an outreach for needy kids during the holidays by the United States Marine Corps.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.