A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

History: Grinch Thwarted in Middletown (1991)

The 18  Dec 1991 edition of The Independent contained this Christmas spirit editorial. This spirit is still alive in the Bayshore. I dropped by the Hazlet K-Mart on Thursday to try to pay off a delinquent layaway Christmas purchase of toys or clothing for someone down on their luck, but all of the accounts had already been paid off by other volunteers. Nice. (The layaway payoff phenomenon is all over the web.)

True meaning of Christmas

As the Christmas season approaches, a reminder of the true meaning of the holiday has been presented to Middletown residents from an unlikely source.

Two weeks ago, an unknown arsonist saw fit to throw a lighted torch through the window of the headquarters of Middletown Helps Its Own, a Port Monmouth-based charity organization which distributes toys and food to needy families during the holidays, among its many charitable endeavors.

Two bins of toys, as well as tons of clothes destined for the needy in the township, were destroyed in the blaze; and were it not for the quick reactions of the Port Monmouth Fire Company, the entire building - a converted historic train station - may have been lost.

The results of the tragedy appeared grave. Shocked and saddened volunteers from MHIO were left with fewer toys to distribute to kids who otherwise may have found nothing in their stockings and nothing under their trees this year.

With the economy in the shape it's in, there would be more and more such children this year than ever before. But then a miraculous thing happened.

Phone calls started pouring in from volunteers, disgusted by the actions of that unknown Grinch who tried to
ruin Christmas for kids whom he's never even met, and willing to help the organization rebound from the

The Marines donated a truckload of stuffed animals from their "Toys for Tots" program. Donations from individuals skyrocketed. The Middletown police offered to pick up toys from people too busy to get to Port Monmouth to deliver them themselves.

The community responded to the actions of one isolated idiot with togetherness, caring and spirit, and the results were remarkable. MHIO officials now say that their stock of toys for the holidays is larger than it was before the fire, and they have dozens of new volunteers to help distribute them. Middletown helped Middletown Helps Its Own.

In a strange way, it took an arsonist to show everyone the true meaning of Christmas - to give of yourself to help others. When you think about it, it makes a pretty good Christmas story.


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