Police run to help ward off the Grinch this year

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Photo by Jen Marra-/ Two volunteers pile up presents during last year’s “The Lynch Who Stole Christmas from the Grinch” toy drive. Photo by Jen Marra/ Two volunteers pile up presents during last year’s “The Lynch Who Stole Christmas from the Grinch” toy drive. WILDWOOD—Every year, the Lunch with Lynch foundation helps out hundreds of local families during the holiday season. This year, Wildwood police have decided to pitch in, too.

This weekend, the Wildwood Police Department is hosting its first “Pinch the Grinch” 5K Run and one-mile fun walk on Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Wildwoods Convention Center.

“We have had a good relationship with John Lynch and the Lunch with Lynch foundation,” Capt. Robert Regalbuto said. Regalbuto is organizing the run, which he says is one of the first major community fundraisers the police department has hosted.

“Our department wanted to try to collect more toys and more money and help the children of the community,” he said.

Registration for the run or fun walk is $30, but if a participant brings a donated unwrapped toy, the registration fee is $15. The money raised from the run will go to purchase gift cards for food for the families, as well as Christmas dinner for some and winter coats for local children.

Regalbuto said that the run had already garnered about $2,000 in sponsorships from local businesses.

“That’s before we even had one registered walker or runner,” he said. “The community has really come out for this.”

The run will begin at 10 a.m. in front of the Wildwoods Convention Center. From there, participants will run south on the Wildwood Boardwalk to Cresse Avenue, make a turn around and head north to 21st Avenue. The run will end back at the convention center, where refreshments will be served and prizes awarded.

Police officers are also especially encouraged to come out for the race, organizers said.

The race is going to have three prizes for the top three officers –first place is for the “Top Cop” second place is the “Senior Officer” and third place is the “Rookie.”

“We see these kids firsthand in the schools and in the houses and we have a better view of what theses children handle on a day in and day out basis,” Regalbuto said. “So that’s all the more the reason for us to get out and help them.”

The Lunch with Lynch Foundation has been holding its “The Lynch Who Stole Christmas from the Grinch” drive for the past five years, and last year over 500 kids in the Wildwoods and Middle and Lower townships received gifts on Christmas morning thanks to the toy drive.

Lynch said that the toy drive collects gifts for children between 6 and 15 years old, and volunteers help deliver the toys to the families on the morning of Christmas Eve.

“We like giving Santa a helping hand,” Lynch said in an email. He was away when asked by the Leader about the drive.

“We are very lucky to have an awesome army of volunteers that help us wrap and deliver all the toys,” he said.

Besides the run on Saturday, the drive is also being supported this year by the Key West Café on Dec. 21. From 8 a.m. to noon that morning, anyone who donates a toy can receive a free breakfast at the restaurant, which is located at 4701 Pacific Ave. 

“There is no greater feeling than having the support of your community that provides over 2,000 gifts to families that could use a helping hand over the holidays,” Lynch said. “That is the power of community and the power of giving.”

Gifts can be donated to the drive until Dec. 20. Drop off points are listed on the Lunch with Lynch web page, www.lunchwithlynch/grinch. A list of gifts needed and a place to make online donations is also available on the website.

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

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