Hundreds of toys collected for children in need were destroyed by a fire in a New Jersey city in a heartbreaking loss that also ruined decades of memories for the baseball community.
The fire ravaged the Paramus Little League Baseball fieldhouse early Sunday morning, leaving years of treasures gone.
"This was all memorabilia stuff from over the years, decades of trophies, signs and state championships," said Paramus Junior Baseball league President Andy Taranocchia, pointing to many of the trophies that started to melt just from the heat from the flames.
Aside from the memories, something just as precious was destroyed as well: Hundreds of donated toys just collected by the Bergen County Toys for Tots Foundation.
'I cried first—I couldn’t believe it," said Brenda Brundage, who had just launched this year’s toy campaign.
Generous residents gave nearly 150 unwrapped toys, and volunteers then used monetary donations to shop for more gifts. Brundage dropped off a shipment on Saturday to be stored here until delivery next month, and called the loss "devastating."
The toy-giving effort was started in 2006 with a motorcycle fundraiser, saying they were able to bring in about 350 toys in that first year. She said it had been building more and more each year.
Two years ago, the foundation donated 2,115 toys to Operation Toy Train and the U.S. Marine Corps reserve for children in need.
"We see all the faces on everybody, and they go, 'Oh my God, that many toys for that many kids, and it's amazing," Brundage said.
Word is already spreading about the loss, with residents already stopping by the Orange Lantern restaurant in Paramus to replenish boxes Brundage had set up.
"Every little bit helps, and I think that people are going to be there. I think they're going to do it, they're going to help us," Brundage said.
Anyone looking to help save Christmas for a deserving child, the restaurant is open every day from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. for toy drop-off. The campaign will wrap up on Dec.10 — with lots of elves hoping to deliver much needed holiday cheer this year and perhaps set a new record for goodness.