MADISON, NJ -- There’s still a few days left to help make the holidays a little brighter for Madison children whose families are coping with financial challenges.  On December 11, volunteers from The Madison Eagle Christmas Fund (MECF) will be collecting toys, sporting equipment, school and art supplies (such as crayons and coloring books) for children up to 12 years old as well as gloves, hats and mittens.  Collection boxes are currently at a variety of Madison merchants, the Madison Library and St. Vincent Martyr School. Many local residents embrace the MECF tradition of “neighbors helping neighbors” by making cash donations or by purchasing gifts collected through area partners.  

“The MECF was inspired many years ago by resident Barbara Valk, who made an effort to remember some lonely senior citizens to show her son that holidays are more than presents under a tree.  Several families have incorporated MECF shopping into their own family holiday traditions to teach their kids about giving back,” said Gary Ruckelshaus, chairman of the MECF.  

Toy collection sites include the following:  Alfred’s Sports Shop, Coldwell Banker, Fulton Bank, GameChanger Fitness Madison, Lakeland Bank, The Max Challenge, Provident Bank, Tons of Toys, Sugar Rush, Weichert Realtors.  In addition, Cleaners Advantage will pick up news toys by arrangement.  Adams Dental is collecting new gloves of all sizes and St. Vincent Martyr School is collecting donations of NEW books, school and art supplies (such as crayons and coloring books) as well as gloves, hats and mittens for children up to 12 years old.  The Madison Library also will have a box for the collection of new children's, teen and adult books. 

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To make donations even easier, customers can purchase a toy or gift at three merchants —  Alfred’s, Sugar Rush and Tons of Toys — and donate while in the store for one-stop shopping. Gifts for “tweens” (ages 10-12) are especially needed for the boxes. Items that tend to be on many wish lists include:

  1. Legos/k’nex or building sets

  2. Sport balls/equipment 

  3. Science kits

  4. Adult coloring books (for older kids)/markers/journals

  5. Magic sets

  6. Arts and crafts for older children, such as jewelry making

  7. Bath/beauty accessories for tweens

  8. Books for more advanced readers or in Spanish language

  9. Board games

  10. Baking sets

MECF is a proud Madison tradition that has assisted thousands of Madison’s families, disabled and seniors for 45 years.  The MECF is a community effort with civics and religious groups, merchants, schools, volunteers and individual donors teaming up to help neighbors with financial challenges. Last year, the fund assisted 56 families and 70 senior citizens, providing holiday gifts such as coats, toys, books, grocery and gas gift cards for close to 300 Madison residents.

Tax deductible cash donations, essential to the MECF mission, can be made through the insert provided in the October electric bill, by posting a check payable to the Madison Eagle Christmas Fund, PO Box 2, Madison, NJ 07940 or directly through the website at

The MECF raises about $30,000 annually, and relies solely on donations and volunteers to cover operating expenses.  To learn more about MECF and other donation opportunities in town, please visit our webpage at and like the group on Facebook.