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Archdiocese of Newark to Distribute More Than 1,000 Toys to Families in Need

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Newark NJ, The Mercy House, a resource and referral center operated by the Archdiocese of Newark’s Respect Life Office, will distribute more than 1,000 new and unwrapped toys to families in need during its Fifth Annual Christmas Giveaway at its Newark location (620 Clinton Avenue) on Friday, December 16, at 11 a.m.

All who visit the giveaway will receive two toys for each of their children — plus one small gift like crayons — while supplies last. The toys are intended for boys and girls ages 17 and under and will include items like basketballs, dolls, and building blocks. Since these presents are meant to come from Santa Claus, parents and guardians are encouraged not to bring their children to the event so the youth can be surprised on Christmas.

“A lot of kids wake up on Christmas morning and get lots of gifts, but there are many kids who don’t have that experience because their families can’t afford to buy presents,” said Cheryl A. Riley, director of the Respect Life Office and The Mercy House. “By giving away these toys, we’re making a huge difference in children’s lives by bringing them joy on Christmas. Every child deserves to get a present from Santa.”

This year’s Christmas Giveaway comes at a time of increased need for many, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting that New Jersey experienced a bigger increase in poverty than nearly every other state between 2019 and 2021. As a result, The Mercy House is expecting at least 300 families to attend, which is more than the event typically attracts. But the staff is optimistic it has enough toys for everyone thanks to the numerous contributions of archdiocesan parishes, public and private schools, Knights of Columbus chapters, and individual donors.

In fact, The Mercy House is sharing some of its gifts with Sir Isaac Newton Elementary School in Newark, which requested items for students in need. Additionally, on December 20 Mercy House staff and volunteers will hand out stockings filled with candy and small toys that were donated by the North Arlington Woman’s Club for Christmas.

“We’ve seen a lot of need this year,” Riley said. “People have come in asking for everything from food to rental assistance. Some are struggling after losing their job. So it feels great to give away these toys because we’re ensuring that parents in need can still provide a happy Christmas for their children even if they’ve fallen on hard times.”

The Mercy House has already had an eventful holiday season in 2022. The resource and referral center distributed more turkeys than ever before during its Thanksgiving Giveaway in November, and December saw the opening of its second location in Jersey City. Next, it will further pursue its goal of expanding to Bergen and Union counties, which are the only two areas served by the Archdiocese that do not yet have their own Mercy House location. And, as always, it will continue seeking much-needed volunteers and donations.

Opened in 2018 as a center for pregnant and parenting women, The Mercy House has since expanded its mission to support anyone in need. Today it provides nonperishable food, clothing, baby supplies, furniture, and help finding work and housing to all who visit its Newark location every Tuesday and Friday or its Jersey City location every Monday and Thursday between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. For more information, visit

The Archdiocese of Newark serves 1.3 million Catholics throughout Bergen, Essex, Hudson, and Union counties. There are 212 parishes, 73 Catholic schools, and many missions and ministries in the Archdiocese. Hundreds of Masses are celebrated in more than a dozen languages each week. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., the sixth archbishop of Newark, leads the Archdiocese with four auxiliary bishops. Together, they serve the northern New Jersey community through faith, education, and social services.

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