SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - The VFW post 9111, located in South Brunswick, recently hosted the Menlo Park Veterans for their annual holiday party where they were served food and drinks and given presents. About 20 veterans from Menlo Park were in attendance for the feast and numerous members of the community volunteered to serve food and donated to collect gifts. Notable people in attendance include Mayor Charles Carley, Deputy Mayor Joe Camarota and Councilman Ken Bierman.
Bob Kelly, the commander of Post 9111, says that the VFW has been hosting the Menlo Park Veterans and bring them in from their home in Edison for the past few years. The VFW does other events for them such as hosting a bingo at their home in February. The food being served for them was cooked on site at the VFW, the chopped meat for the meatloaf was paid for by an eye doctor in South Brunswick, according to Kelly.
“We see a lot of these people return every year because they really look forward to this.” Kelly said, “It’s always a great turn out and we get a lot of great help from the community. We get some elected people to help out as well every year, that really means a lot to us.”
All the gifts were paid for by the VFW with money they have raised by hosting numerous events throughout the year. Each Menlo Park veteran was given a goodie bag filled with blankets, playing cards, shirts, socks, pens as well as a donation. The gifts were handed out to them by a Santa Clause played by Scott Williams, a retired cop in South Brunswick. Veterans also received $50 each, courtesy of the Purple Heart chapter ten located in Middlesex County.
Paula Frederick works for the Parks and Recreation department in Menlo Park and has helped organize the trip to the VFW for the past ten years. She says that the veterans look forward to this event every year and love to celebrate the holiday season with fellow veterans in the state.
“They love the holidays, and they love to interact with different people. It’s exciting for them to go and meet people outside the home, especially if we’re going to a place where they can get a meal and some gifts.” Frederick said “I’ve been talking to a lot of them throughout the evening, they are having a really nice time, and they are really like the food.”
Deputy Mayor Joe Camarota was helping out during the event, serving food to those in attendance. Joe says that he is happy to help the veterans in any capacity that he can and is proud of the work that the VFW does for the community.
“My roll here is to acknowledge and give respect to what these brave men and women have done for our country” Camarota said “Anything I can do to help I’m happy to do it, and with the holiday season coming around it’s just warms your heart to see so much good come out of a group of people like this.”