BELMAR, NJ — It’s never too early to start thinking ahead to the holidays, particularly if you’re Simply Southern Cuisine owner Rasheed Simmons.
Looking to make the upcoming season a bit brighter for local children, his Belmar Plaza restaurant is kicking off its first-ever toy drive — festival style — on Sunday, September 24 from 3 to 7 p.m. And the former New York Giant is bringing aboard a host of others to help in the effort, including New Jersey's Chapter 15 of the Blue Knights Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, Harley-Davidson and other NFL veterans.
“I want to make sure that children wake up on Christmas with smiles on their faces and feeling good about themselves,” Simmons said. “My goal is to fill a tractor trailer full of toys to be delivered for the holidays.”
And he’s planning a big afternoon of fun and festivities to make that happen — just be sure to bring an unwrapped toy and be ready to enjoy the sights and sounds of big bikes.
Dozens of Blue Knights club members are expected to roar into Belmar Plaza for the event, where a major highlight will be a motorcycle contest that is open to the public.
Bikes will be judged for “continuity, cleanliness, paint and accessory, quality and overall appearance” by a former New York Giants player and a surprise guest Super Bowl champion, as well as Creative Performance, a motorcycle repair shop in Wall that will be presenting a custom trophy to the first-place winner. Also on hand will be three other event sponsors: Shoreline Harley-Davidson in Long Branch and Harley-Davidson of Ocean County, Lakewood, and Shop Local Jersey Shore.
And there will be plenty on the day’s food menu. Coming from the kitchen of Simply Southern Cuisine, which Simmons owns and operates with his mom and chef, Rita, will be its ever-popular fried chicken, hush puppies, homemade chips and “a couple of surprises,” he said.
Two Belmar Plaza neighbors — Jersey Shore BBQ and 10th Avenue Burrito Company — also will be participating, as Coney Island Waffle from Belmar’s boardwalk will be bringing dessert.
For the kids, there will be a cotton-candy machine and face-painting. And for everyone’s entertainment pleasure, the Lone Ramblers and Turtle Soup are two bands that will be performing during the toy drive.
All toys collected will be delivered in November to The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, and Madonna House, Neptune, by members of the Blue Knights, a nonprofit organization consisting of active and retired law enforcement officers who enjoy riding motorcycles.
For more information or to drop off an unwrapped toy, call Simply Southern Cuisine, located at 817 Belmar Plaza, at 732-243-9259.
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