By Maddy Vitale
The reward of belonging to a charity such as Waves of Caring is simple if you ask its members.
This Christmas, like the 24 before, the organization will bring smiles to the faces of about 150 needy children in Ocean City.
Waves of Caring is a city-sanctioned charity that collects and distributes toys and other gifts around the Christmas holiday for children of underprivileged Ocean City families.
On Tuesday, Ocean City Fire Chief Jim Smith, who has been with Waves of Caring for all 25 years, flipped through some of the 60 applications filled out by parents or guardians of children in need. On the applications, next to the names, ages and gender of the children, are what types of toys they may want.
“We give to kids from newborn up to high school,” Smith said. “Our goal is to help families in town. We are an affluent town, but there are families here who are struggling.”
In the past, children have received bikes, games, all sorts of toys and clothes. The older children get gift cards, so they may choose what they would like most for the holiday.
That is where Waves of Caring comes in. In addition to the toy drive, it works with different organizations in town to extend a helping hand of donated food, clothing, holiday gifts and a one-time monetary gift through the Ocean City Ecumenical Council, a coalition of churches.
Gifts for about 150 children will be handed out by Smith, other members of Waves of Caring and people from the Ecumenical Council from 10 a.m. to noon on Dec. 18 at the Kull Center, 550 Wesley Ave.
Smith said last-minute applications can be handed in to the city’s Neighborhood and Social Services Office, 821 Central Ave., by Dec. 7.
Waves of Caring board member Dana Linthicum said the toy drive is such an important event.
“Often we forget that there are families in need right here in Ocean City, that there are children going to school with our own kids who won’t get a visit from Santa Claus,” Linthicum noted. “The Waves of Caring volunteers spend hours sifting through generously donated toys to create a personalized package for each family. We want to make sure that every child in our community experiences the magic of Christmas.”
There are many drop-off points in the community for anyone wishing to donate unwrapped toys to the drive.
However, this year will be the first in the last decade in which there won’t be a toy drive dinner, which was traditionally held at the Port-O-Call Hotel in Ocean City.
Smith said Port-O-Call was gracious in allowing Waves of Caring to hold the annual dinner and fundraiser there.
“I was amazed and grateful we got to hold the dinner there for 10 years,” Smith said.
Last year, Port-O-Call announced that it would no longer partner for the dinner event.
Smith said it was beneficial to both the charity and the hotel. The dinner brought people to the hotel’s Adelene Restaurant for the special evening, and Waves of Caring received money and donations.
Smith said without the hotel’s involvement this year, the drop-off locations throughout Ocean City are key to obtaining toys for the needy.
“Port-O-Call gave us a chance to collect more toys, as well as financial donations and an opportunity to update the community on what Waves of Caring is all about and what we support,” Smith said.
In addition to the toy drive, Waves of Caring, partners with other organizations. The group works with the Ocean City Tabernacle. It provides transportation for the Intermediate School students to attend an afterschool program called the Sun Club.
The charity organization also assists with “Holiday Helpings” to provide groceries for people in need to make Christmas dinner. On Dec. 20, an estimated 40 families with 80 children will benefit from the food drive at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church, said Susie Stauffer, the “Holiday Helpings” director.
Without the dinner at the Port-O-Call, Smith said, it is even more important for the public to know drop-off locations for toys.
“We really relied on the dinner and we are now looking to other avenues for support,” Smith noted. “We will look to see if we can come up with a partner to rekindle our annual holiday party.”
Donation Drop-Off Sites for Waves of Caring and Toys for Tots in Ocean City are as follows:
Ocean City Fire Department Headquarters
550 Asbury Ave.
Ocean City Discounts
1309 West Ave.
Reich Asset Management
110 Roosevelt Bvd.
Ocean City Free Public Library
1735 Simpson Ave.
Inside entrance door
1735 Simpson Ave.
At the check-in desk
Bank of America – Ocean City
34th St. and Simpson Ave., Ocean City
Sturdy Savings Bank
101 East 34th Street, Ocean City
719 East 11th St., Ocean City
1510 Boardwalk Ocean City
Ocean City Home Bank
10th and Asbury
1048 Asbury Ave.
OC Board of Realtors
405 22nd St
Hoys 5 & 10
732 Asbury Ave
Hoys 5 & 10
34th and West
American Legion Post 524
46th and West Ave.