No Grinch for Wildwood

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Toy drive seeks to give everybody a merry Christmas 

WILDWOOD- For the fourth year, John Lynch is making sure the Grinch doesn’t steal Christmas in the Wildwoods.

His annual “The Lynch Who Stole Christmas…From the Grinch” toy drive is expected to donate toys, food, and clothing to about 200 families in the Wildwood area this Christmas Eve, he said.

“Our big push is on toys,” Lynch said. “Just to bring a little joy on Christmas Eve.”

Lynch said the drive has about 150 volunteers from the island and its neighboring communities. Those volunteers, which he calls his “Grinch squad,” will organize, wrap, and ultimately deliver the donated gifts on Christmas Eve.

The drive focuses on children in the community who are between 5 and 11 years old. However, if that child has a brother or sister outside of that age group, Lynch said a gift would be donated to those siblings as well.

“We don’t fill the tree, but we certainly help them out and add to the spirit of the day,” Lynch said.

Gift cards for groceries and boxes with the makings for a Christmas dinner are also provided to some families, Lynch said.

Lynch began the toy drive four years ago when he realized there was a need in the community.

“I ran into a kid on the island and we were talking and I was asking him what he wanted from Santa,” Lynch recalled. “He answered, ‘My mom said because we moved so much Santa doesn’t know where we live anymore.’

“That just slapped me in the face,” he continued.

That year, he hoped to help 20 Wildwood families by bringing toys to their children. With the response he received from local volunteers, Lynch said he was able to help 80, and every year the drive has grown.

This year, however, the drive has been affected by the destruction Hurricane Sandy brought.

“People didn’t really ask to get a lot this year because of Sandy,” Lynch said. “And people normally giving might be affected.”

He explained that although the island had suffered little physical damage from the storm, the locals were still forced to evacuate. In a community of seasonal workers, Lynch said, this evacuation was an unexpected expense for families in Wildwood that are on a strict budget from October until summer.

“When you really start thinking about what you’ll cut, you’re going to make sure you can feed your family come February, instead of spending money on Christmas,” Lynch said. “So we’re trying to help them a little bit with that aspect of the storm.”

Lynch said that this year, the community, and even those outside of it, have especially reached out to help the drive.

Paige Star, a junior girl scout from Lancaster, donated 10 bags of toys and collected enough cash donations to donate a bicycle to a child in need in the Wildwoods this Christmas. Star, Lynch said, was inspired to start a toy drive to give to the Jersey Shore after she saw the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Morey’s Piers, as well as the Wildwood Crest Republican organization, have also made substantial donations to Lynch’s toy drive, he said.

Steve Mikulski, who owns the Key West Café on Pacific Avenue, said his restaurant is offering a special deal to those patrons who bring toys to the restaurant to donate to Lynch’s toy drive this year. For every toy a customer donates, they will receive a free breakfast of two pancakes, two eggs, and two bacon strips.

“We’ve got to give a little back to the area that helps give back to us all the time,” Mikulski said.

“We’re doing this so kids wake up happy on the 25th,” Lynch said. “That really shows what the spirit of Christmas is all about.”

The drive collected gifts through Thursday, Dec. 21. Toys, games, and gift cards for children ages 5-17 are needed, as well as food gift cards to Acme or SuperFresh. Cash, check, and donations through PayPal are also accepted. For a full list of drop-off points for gifts, see 

Christie Rotondo can be emailed at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or you can comment on this story at 

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