NEWARK, NJ — Newark police and firemen helped brighten the holiday season for children who experienced loss in 2019.

Visits from Santa Claus, the Newark Fire Division's mascot Sparky the Fire Dog brought smiles to the faces of about 50 children and their families. Santa Claus also zipped by in a Newark Police helicopter, waving down at the crowd. 

"I hope 2020 is ten thousand times better than 2019," said Ras Baraka, Newark mayor.

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Commanders from each of Newark’s seven precincts and Chief of Fire Rufus Jackson invited Newark children impacted by the Newark Department of Public Safety to the fourth annual toy distribution event at a firehouse on Orange Street. The selected children may have lost a parent or family member, been relocated following a fire or experienced some other public safety incident during the year. 

The children chose from among the bounty of toys donated by members of the Newark Department of Public Safety’s Police, Fire and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Toys were also collected in a partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program.

After the event, the remaining toys were randomly distributed to Newark children throughout the city by police and firefighters as well as to children who will spend the holidays in area hospitals.

Newark resident Maria Colón brought several of her grandchildren to the event, who were excited to see Santa and receive presents. Colón said she was very happy and that the event was beautiful.