Fire companies from Maryland were honored by Toms River officials this week for their efforts to help Silverton recover from Hurricane Sandy's wrath.
During a Christmas party last Saturday, members from numerous fire companies in Maryland donated 700 toys to Silverton families in need this holiday season. That donation marked "an historic event" in Toms River, according to a resolution honoring those who helped.
"It was something like I've never seen before," said Councilmember Maria Maruca. "It was an amazing, amazing day last Saturday at Silverton firehouse for the families and children."
That Dec. 8 Christmas party "was no ordinary Saturday in Toms River," the resolution states. "But rather it was an historic event marked by overwhelming joy and the triumph of good cheer that we forever etched in the hearts of every participant in this year's Silverton Fire Company Christmas celebration."
"It was a Silverton strong kind of day for all of us," Maruca said.
Portions of Silverton were badly damaged when Sandy rolled through in late-October. Since then, the community has rallied, with its volunteer fire company headquarters serving as a hub of recovery activity.
"The community in Silverton has done a good job of coming together, spearheaded by the fire department and the first aid squad," Hill said. "I can't thank you enough."
"There's a great spirit out there," said Mayor Thomas Kelaher, who, along with some council members, attended a tree lighting ceremony at Silver Bay Elementary School this week.
Kelaher praised the "spirit and dedication" of the fire company's members, many of whom had personal losses to deal with following Sandy but still found a way to serve their community.
"The chief and most of his men had lost their homes, and despite that they were helping other people," Kelaher said.
The toy donation comes at an important time in the Silverton recovery. Members of the fire company were "reduced to tears" when the toys arrived, according to the resolution.
"I've got to tell you, it was such a wonderful day. It was so appreciated by the residents. There wasn't a dry eye in the house," Maruca said. "There really wasn't."
Kelaher said that the fire companies in Maryland were told they could watch the reading of the resolution through a video stream on the township's website — as such, officials waved to the camera in hopes that they were watching. Copies of the resolution will be mailed to the companies.
"Even though they're in Maryland, we wanted to recognize them for their generosity and our gratitude," Maruca said.