CLOSTER, N.J. — Time stood still Wednesday for Don Nicoletti during the Bergen County PBA's Annual Toy Drive.
For the 28th year in a row, the "commander" marveled at the response from the "Santa Response Team" -- members of more than four dozen law enforcement agencies and other volunteers -- who trucked thousands of toys to the Closter firehouse.
"We're making magic happen," Nicoletti told Daily Voice.
"We don't have the power to relieve [those ailing and in need]," he said, "but we try to bring a little bit of joy to them just for a moment."
The Bergen County agencies -- along with their Orangetown colleagues -- amassed thousands of gifts Wednesday morning that some of them personally delivered to hospitals and other destinations for sick, terminally ill and needy youngsters and their families.
First, though, they had to be sorted -- a task handled by U.S. Army reservists from the Teaneck Armory, helpers of all stripes and the responders themselves, including chiefs and other ranking officers.
Eight Little Ferry police officers spent their day off at the event helping out, Chief Ralph Verdi told Daily Voice.
"We've been doing this for 7 years, and it just feels good to see the young guys giving back," Verdi said. "Everyone in town helped out — schools, businesses.
"Everyone's reaction was, 'What do you need?' "
Soon after, several officers set off to meet pediatric cancer patients at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children's Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Other presents were headed to other hospitals and organizations -- as well as to several specific families facing tragedy, loss and need whose wish lists were being filled.
Police thanked all the citizens who donated, as well as countless businesses who contributed money and presents and served as drop-off points.
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