SOMERVILLE, NJ  — The Easter Bunny emptied the jelly beans, chocolate and decorated eggs from his basket yesterday and replaced the traditional contents with pairs of socks destined for U.S. military personnel overseas.

The Easter Bunny — aka Felix Ciattarelli — traveled from Raritan to Somerville on Friday, March 30 down Main Street, carrots in one hand, holding on to the cab of a flat-bed truck with the other along with five boxes containing 500 pairs of socks packed in red, white and blue boxes.

The delivery was made to the office of state Sen. Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset/Hunterdon/Middlesex/ Mercer).

Sign Up for E-News

Bateman and colleague Sen. Kristin M. Corrado. (R-Passaic/Bergen/Essex/ Morris),  launched the “Socks for Soldiers” drive in late February to collect one of the most requested items by troops serving around the world.

“Our heroes at home and abroad need our help to stay warm and comfortable,” said Bateman. “That’s why I’m partnering with Sen. Corrado on a new effort to collect clean, unworn socks that are in high demand by our troops and our veterans. It’s an easy, inexpensive way that we can support those who sacrifice so much on our behalf.”

Inside Bateman’s office, a conference table was already mounded with socks that had been dropped off by constituents the past several weeks.

Rev. Ron Pollock, pastor of St. John’s Episcopal Church on West High Street, also came to Bateman’s office yesterday with a tub of donations from his congregants.

Some of the socks will be shared with local charitable organizations that serve those with needs, according to Bateman.

Bateman will deliver the socks to Operation Shoebox New Jersey. The volunteer organization, with headquarters in Hillsborough, sends personal care packages to U.S. troops overseas,  and will include the donated socks in upcoming shipments.

Ciattarelli, owner of Value Towing Service on Old York Road in Bridgewater, donates frequently to volunteer causes, according to Bateman, who estimates the 500 socks courtesy of the Easter Bunny boosted the total collected to over 2,000.

Bateman’s office, at 36 Warren Street will continue to collect the socks until Tuesday, April 3.

Further information is available by calling Bateman’s legislative office at 908-526-3600.

Editor's Note: Tapinto Somerville owner/editor Rod Hirsch is also founder and executive director of Operation Shoebox New Jersey