2012-01-18 / Front Page

Family overwhelmed by donations

Freehold Borough officer says newspaper article produced flood of support

When a Freehold Borough police officer asked the community to assist the victims of a house fire, people responded in overwhelming fashion.

In the week following the publication of a News Transcript article about the plight of the Monaco family, donations of gently used furniture poured in and helped the family furnish a home it is now renting on Factory Street in Freehold Borough. The Monaco family lost most of its possessions when fire raced through its home on Institute Street in Freehold Borough on Thanksgiving day.

Freehold Borough Patrolman Eduardo Santana was instrumental in orchestrating the effort to assist the family, which includes father Juan Monaco, mother Delia Vega, and four children ages 2 to 11.

Santana said when he visited the family after Christmas to see how they were doing, he noticed the Factory Street home they were renting had very little furniture.

“They had a TV on the floor and not much else,” the officer said. “They lost everything in the fire.” In a Jan. 4 News Transcript article, Santana asked for donations of gently used furniture on behalf of the family. He was stunned and touched by a response he said has been “phenomenal.”

“It has been absolutely overwhelming,” he said, crediting the News Transcript with getting the word out to the community.

Santana said he and the family appreciated the newspaper article and the response it produced.

“We received so many phone calls from people wanting to help the family,” the officer said. “We were able to collect all the necessities and then some.”

Santana said the family has received a living room set, a sofa bed, a dining room set, bedroom sets, televisions and clothing.

“And each item that was donated has a story behind it and every story was heartfelt,” the officer added. “The family is so grateful for all the help and all the donations. They were very surprised and happy at the response. They are a very humble family. Seeing this response makes you proud to be an American.

“You see someone who needs help and you do it with compassion and you give it 100 percent. You do what you can to make sure they are OK. When it comes to people needing help, we run to offer help. It’s the American way.”

Freehold Borough Police Chief Glenn Roberts praised Santana for his efforts and said the officer took it upon himself to work on this effort on his own time.

“I encourage my officers to self-initiate community outreach,” Roberts said. “Looking to help people and connect with members of the community is the essence of what we do as police officers. When a police officer gets hired they are asked, ‘why do you want to do this?’ The answer is always the same, ‘to help and protect people,’ and Officer Santana is a prime example of this.”

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