The annual Atlantic Highlands First Aid Santa Runs and Food Drive are set to take flight for the 2017 holiday season.
The Santa Runs will get underway Dec. 4 and, weather permitting, run through Dec. 7. Each night between 6 and 9 PM, Santa and his team of elves from the Atlantic Highlands First Aid Squad will visit a section of the borough in a specially designed sleigh pulled by an ambulance. Santa will stop to visit with the children and families, pose for pictures and listen to holiday gift lists. During the runs, Santa and the crew will use flashing lights, ambulance sirens and music to alert neighborhoods to his pending arrival.
Keeping with tradition, the squad will use this opportunity to collect non-perishable food items to be donated to the food pantry at the United Methodist Church. Since incorporating a food drive into the Santa Runs in 2008, the AHFAS has collected thousands of food items, store gift cards and cash that have all gone to directly help the food pantry.
This year, Santa will be riding in an updated sleigh, which has been fully overhauled under the guidance of Chief Lance Hubeny. The sleigh has new, bright LED lighting, a fresh coat of paint, a super sound system and a handmade blanket to keep Santa warm during his travels throughout the borough.
“There is an excitement in the building,” says Hubeny. “The team has been working night and day on the sleigh in preparation for this week. They’re excited to get the Santa Runs underway. And they look forward to visiting with friends and neighbors along the way.”
Hubeny also says there is a renewed focus on the food drive this year, and the squad is looking to top all previous collection efforts.
“Collecting food for the local food pantry has been an additional benefit of the Santa Runs and it has been a runaway success,” Hubeny says. “We’ve spoken to the folks at the food pantry and they’re as excited as we are to get the Santa Runs started. We’re asking everyone coming out to see Santa to donate whatever they can spare – a can or two of food goes a long way in helping others.”
Residents can also track where Santa will be each night by following the squad on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ahfirstaid, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ahfirstaid or by visiting the squad’s website at www.ahfirstaid.org. A map with the AHFAS zones – which are different from the borough services zones – will be on all social media platforms and the squad’s website. Anyone with special needs or those who want to check on where Santa is headed can call the AHFAS’ non-emergency number (732) 291-8118 before 6 p.m. each night.
The AHFAS is an all-volunteer emergency medical and rescue services operation that operates on the generous donations from the borough and its residents. For information on how you can become a part of this dynamic organization call our non-emergency number at (732) 291-8118.
“This year’s Santa Runs are going to be great,” says Hubeny. “The crew is ready. Santa is ready. And we’re ready to share some holiday cheer with the community.”