EDISON, NJ – The holiday season is a time to reach out to those who need help the most. Increasingly, that includes our military veterans here in Middlesex County.

That’s why Amazon transformed the Edison VFW Memorial Post 3117 on Thursday into a winter wonderland, replete with lights, food, music and, of course, Santa Claus and piles of presents.

The e-commerce retailer, with a fulfillment center based in Edison and five other locations in the county, announced that it is donating $15,000 worth of toys, clothing and essential household items to area veterans and their families.

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Rainy Shukla, Amazon General Manager for the Edison facility, said the company fulfilled a holiday wish list for families selected by Triple C Housing, a local non-profit that Amazon has been supporting for the past two years. Those items included warm clothing, towels, pots, pans, dishes and children’s toys, to name a few necessities.

“Amazon is proud to give back to the communities where our employees live and work, and Triple C Housing is a big part of this community,” she said. “They work tirelessly to create permanent supportive housing opportunities couples with innovative support services empowering individuals and families to live with dignity and fulfill their utmost potential. Amazon wants to help, too.”

Triple C focuses on expanding affordable housing opportunities complimented by supportive services to individuals, families and veterans impacted by a disability, who are experiencing homelessness or long term-hospitalization. The North Brunswick-based often partners with Rutgers’ School of Social Work, the Integrated Employment Institute, Pennrose and others.

In fact, Pennrose, a developer, is hoping to complete the Truman Square project – a 172-unit family rental community in Edison – by the fall. Pennrose developer Harishan Lamba, who attended Thursday’s event, said that 44 units of the project will be designated for use by veterans. Some of the gifts at Thursday's event will be going to those veteran families, welcoming them to Edison.

Kimberley Ewell, Director of Operations for Triple C Housing, applauded Amazon’s generosity.

“These donated items are necessary to ease the burden of the families transitioning into their new permanent homes and will outfit their kitchen, bedroom and bathroom,” Ewell said. “The impact that Amazon that has delivered to Triple C so far is enormous and with the current donations, 30 families, veterans and formerly homeless, will soon be smiling.”

Amazon employs more than 21,000 veterans and military spouses in full- and part-time roles across the United States. By 2021, the company plans to employ more than 25,000 veterans and military spouses.

The holiday season is Amazon’s time to shine in serving customers. It has hired more than 200,000 seasonal employees to support customer fulfillment this year.

“You don’t judge a community by how big it’s gotten or anything else,” Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey said at Thursday’s event. “You judge it by how it treats its most vulnerable residents. Thanks to Amazon and Triple C, this obviously treats our residents very, very well. It’s been an honor to be associated with Amazon since they’ve come to our community. They’ve done many things for our community. We  thank them for that."

Lankey noted that Amazon is never directed to be a good citizen in Edison. Rather, it drives its own philanthropy.  "And that's a good thing," he said.