Giving Back

Newark's North Ward councilman works to bring holiday cheer to those in need

75bc1467a38d6d93a353_Ramos0686.jpg
Community members received free toys and $50 Whole Foods gift certificates at the holiday party sponsored by Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
022a63ee3aad6e471620_Ramos-Holiday_Party1200x800.jpg
Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz and Councilman-at-Large Luis Quintana (standing on either side of blue Santa Claus) were among the sponsors of the holiday party.
e614987bc562b00b78fc_Ramos0679.jpg
Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. (far left) sponsored a party at Immaculate Conception Church to help those community members in need during the holiday season. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
e094d8883d141ced7d1a_Ramos0704.jpg
Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. talks to Leilah Romeus (left), and Nylah Imani Gonzales (center) at the holiday party that he and his civic association sponsored.
95c11638da51c88add14_Ramos0682.jpg
Community members received free toys and $50 Whole Foods gift certificates at the holiday party sponsored by Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
a517a5ca3b9e35553e18_Ramos0687.jpg
Leslie McGlown, Todd McGlown, and Sanaija McGlown (left to right) have a good time at the holiday party thrown by Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
9de7974df8fe1fa4b2d4_Ramos0692.jpg
The Perez family has a great time at the holiday party sponsored by Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
d3791a1267a3393e4228_Ramos0695.jpg
Laura Jacome, left, and her mother, Janneth Jacome, enjoy themselves at the holiday party sponsored by Newark North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
2fc58774927caada5225_Ramos0702.jpg
Felix J. Perez, 8, shows his drawing of what it was like for him during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Credits: Mark J. Bonamo
75bc1467a38d6d93a353_Ramos0686.jpg

Surrounded by his extended family in Newark's North Ward, Felix Perez fled one home in Puerto Rico to come back to his native city in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

For Perez, the confusion of his life following the storm has given him a true moment of clarity this Christmas.

"We were terrified that we would lose our lives. We lost everything else. But I've got my family with me, and that's all that matters," said Perez, 28, who lived with his wife and children in Caguas before the hardships suffered by all Puerto Ricans after the hurricane compelled him to come stay with family in Newark's largely Latino neighborhood.

Sign Up for E-News

"Thank God Christmas is everywhere," Perez said. "There is the same love here, and now maybe even more."

Several community organizations, led by North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos Jr. and his civic association, the Anibal Ramos Jr. Civic Association, worked together in the basement of Immaculate Conception Church on Woodside Avenue on Thursday night to help the Perez family and other Newark families in need have a brighter holiday season.

More than 300 people were treated to free food donated by local restaurants, toys for the children, complimentary movie tickets and $50 gift certificates provided by the Whole Foods market in downtown Newark. A raffle was also held for Disney on Ice tickets at the Prudential Center.

"This is what I love to do," said Ramos, who has held his holiday charity event for more than a dozen years, as he hugged kids, handed out gifts and dodged balloons while the DJ played everything from "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms to "Christmas in Hollis" by Run-DMC.

"You know at least for a little while, despite some tough realities out there, people get to have a chance to enjoy themselves," the councilman said.

In addition to Ramos, the event was sponsored by state Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, Assemblywoman Eliana Pintor Marin, Councilman-at-Large Luis and Councilman-at-Large Carlos M. Gonzalez along with the Hispanic Law Enforcement Society of Essex County, the Hispanic Firefighters Association and the Rutgers University Newark Law Enforcement Department. 

One man who came to out to help wore a unique Smurf-blue suit as he stated why he made the trip from the North Pole to the North Ward.

"I just want to give back to the community. We take for granted all of the good things that we have," said Santa Claus, who looked remarkably like a Rutgers University Police officer often seen patrolling the school's downtown Newark campus. "It's nice to see people receive something so special this holiday season."

Felix J. Perez, the eight-year-old namesake of his father, did something special while he and his family got through Hurricane Maria back in Puerto Rico. He drew what he saw around him, and how he felt about it, during the storm as way to help make his fear go away.

Drawing again to show those around him the dark times he recently went through, Felix then illustrated his outlook on his upcoming Christmas in Newark, one lit by the love of his family and his community.

"The wind was scary, but I like it here. It's fun," said Felix, who smiled slyly and shrugged when asked if he had been naughty or nice lately. "I would like a toy, or anything else. But what I really want for me and my family is just happiness." 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Newark

He Grew Up In James Baxter Terrace. Today, He Ushers in a Newark Condo Complex

July 19, 2018

NEWARK, NJ - Hassan Keith grew up in the city’s James Baxter Terrace public housing, and now he's come back to unveil a 24-unit condominium complex on Clinton Avenue he helped build. 

Keith teamed up with the NFL's Mike Adams to form the Mid-Atlantic Investment Alliance development company along with two others. Today, they cut the ribbon on the new Lofts at ...

Market Street Patrol Building May Be Named After Late Undersheriff

June 28, 2018

NEWARK, NJ — The death of Essex County Undersheriff Kevin Ryan on June 20 was a "devastating loss" for the department and for the county’s sheriff, Armando Fontoura.

“He was like a son to me. He was always the first one on the scene. He was always there to help. It’s just devastating. There is not much more I can say," Fontoura said in a ...

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey Opens Camp DeWitt Conference Center and Activity Building

July 2, 2018

HILLSBOROUGH, N.J. – If you don’t know by now, Girl Scouts is much more than cookies, crafts, and summer camp.

In fact, the Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey say they should host your next professional business conference, special event, or any other big celebration in which you are looking to seriously impress.

Look no further than Camp DeWitt in Hillsborough, the site of ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8fd7ffdcf0e8abaaca95_lincolnpark

Fri, July 27, 10:00 AM

Lincoln Park, Newark

Lincoln Park Music Festival Sustainable Health ...

Carousel_image_705db43167d2ae62207f_arjc_2018moviesunderthestars_tap1200x800

Thu, August 16, 5:00 PM

Branch Brook Park, Newark

Movies Under the Stars

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

A Statewide Solution on Disposable Bags Aids the Fight Against Litter

June 29, 2018

The New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) just released the results of a year-long visual litter study that shows that nearly 10 percent of all litter on our roadways and highways is in the form of plastic and paper bags.

There is no doubt that these bags are of significant and ongoing environmental concern, creating an even more difficult job for our clean communities volunteers across ...