NEWARK, NJ — Mercy House, a program under the Archdiocese of Newark, distributed hundreds of toys to parents in need on Friday outside their Clinton Hill location as the need for support skyrockets this holiday season. 

Cherly Riley, director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Newark, said requests for food, clothing and children’s holiday gifts have undoubtedly increased in 2020. This year marks the third holiday gift drive for Mercy House, which was established in 2018 as a resource for the Newark community. 

About 200 families reached two toys per child as well as a gift for moms, wrapping and tissue paper. Gifts like hoodies and sweaters for children up to 17 were also provided. Everything was donated to parishes within the Archdiocese of Newark.

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And those families served can continue coming back to Mercy House for necessities from its food pantry, clothing closet and supply of household goods and toiletries. Riley said Mercy House also offers job and housing support, healing retreats and plans to have a part-time social worker on board in the New Year. 

“The demand is much greater with COVID. We were closed in March, but we reopened because we knew that there was a need here. We knew that the food pantries were closed,” she said. “I just didn’t feel right knowing that we have food and clothes in here and I was sitting home.”

Riley emphasized that the demand is more than a seasonal one. Mercy House is accepting donations of food, men’s clothes, kid’s clothes over 5T and junior’s sizes, household items and toiletries. 

To contact Mercy House, email cheryl.riley@rcan.org or call 973-497-4350.