Members of The Atlantic HighlandsFirst Aid & Safety Squad along with some friends of Santa this week delivered an ambulance full of non-perishable food items to food pantry at theUnited Methodist Church in Atlantic Highlands.

The delivery was the culmination of the Squad’s annual Santa Runs, which ten years ago created a food drive component that has since provided a yearly delivery of donations to the food pantry, which in turn helps local families in their time of need.

“The food pantry is a vital resource in this community,” said AHFAS Chief Jerry Pandolfo. “To be able to help restock the shelves during the holiday season is important to all of us.”

This year marked the 20thanniversary of the Santa Runs and the 10th anniversary of the food drive. For one week squad members assist Santa in visiting with families throughout the borough. Each night, Santa poses for selfies, listens to wishlists from youngsters and greets families along the way. As part of the SantaRuns, the AHFAS urges resident to donate whatever food items they can spare tohelp others.

On December 15, Chief Pandolfo, Lieutenant Richard Huff, Life Member Walter Curry along with Santa’s special helpers Councilmen Lou Fligor and Roy Dellosso and resident Gordon Saunders delivered the food to longtime volunteer Helen Marchetti at the Food Pantry for the Area Association of Community Churches, which is housed at the United Methodist Church.

There is still time to help, Pandolfo noted. Anyone interested in helping the food pantry should call (732) 291-0485.

For 90 years the AHFAS has provided emergency medical services and rescue operations to the borough of Atlantic Highlands and, occasionally to the surrounding area. The all-volunteer organization does this 24/7, 365 days a year and operates on generous donations from the borough and the community. To find out how to become a member or support the AHFAS call the Squad’s non-emergency number (732) 291-8118.

“Every year we ask the community for food donations and each year they respond in an overwhelming way,” said Pandolfo. “It is gratifying to see people waiting for us during the Santa Runs with bags and boxes of food. Each item donated, along with a few cash donations, goes directly to help our fellow residents and to make our community stronger. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday season.”

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