The Atlantic Highlands First Aid & Safety Squad this year will mark the 20th anniversary of its annual Santa Runs festivities and the 10th anniversary of its food drive to help the needy.

The Santa Runs will get underway Monday, Dec. 3 and, weather permitting, run through December 6th. Each night from 6 PM to 9PM, Santa and his team of AHFAS elves will visit a section of the borough. They’ll travel in a specially designed sleigh pulled by an ambulance and accompanied by a convoy of emergency vehicles. Santa and his crew will use flashing lights, holiday music and emergency sirens to alert neighborhoods of his pending arrival.

“The Santa Runs are a highlight of our year,” says AHFAS Chief Jerry Pandolfo. “To be able to mark the 20th anniversary of the event, along with the 10th of the food drive, is amazing. It seems like just yesterday we began this adventure. The response from the community grows each year and is really heartwarming.”

Santa will make stops along the way to pose for pictures, to listen to holiday wish lists, and to collect food donations for the annual food drive.

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.

Residents should check 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 special map with the AHFAS zones – which are different from the borough services zones – will be on all social media platforms. 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 to become a part of the organization call the non-emergency number at (732) 291-8118.

“Nothing brings as much joy to the Squad than the Santa Runs. The food drive has added an extra element to what was already a significant event for the AHFAS,” says Pandolfo. “To be able to use this fun outreach to help our neighbors in need during the holiday is extremely gratifying and a real honor. We look forward to seeing everyone during the week.”

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