Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, right, delivers more than 500 gifts donated by County residents and employees to Project Little Soldier, which benefits the children of U.S. military men and women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.Full size photo

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, right, delivers more than 500 gifts donated by County residents and employees to Project Little Soldier, which benefits the children of U.S. military men and women deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Contact: Julie Willmot
(609) 278-7137


Gifts will benefit children of deployed U.S. military members

TRENTON, N.J. -Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes today delivered more than 500 gifts donated by County employees and residents to Project Little Soldier, a toy drive which provides gifts to the children of U.S. military members deployed in the Middle East.

Mercer County collected donated gifts at several locations over the past several weeks for Project Little Soldier, run by non-profit organization, American Recreational Military Services (ARMS).

"It really warms the spirit and shows just how much those who live and work in Mercer County care about our U.S. military men and women and their families," said Hughes, who handed over the gifts at Mercer County Connection on Route 33 in Hamilton Dec. 11. "I thank everyone who donated for helping make the season so much brighter for these children, whose parents are serving abroad and will not be home for the holidays."

The donated gifts were accepted by Jo Leili, a coordinator for the ARMS' Operation Open Arms program, and her father-in-law, Joseph Marrazzo Jr., a World War II Navy veteran who operated an auto body shop in Mercer County for more than 40 years.

Leili, whose group regularly sends comfort items, food, and other products to U.S. military members abroad throughout the year, said the 500-plus children's gifts donated by Mercer County will help Project Little Soldier reach its goal of providing 10,000 gifts to approximately 3,000 children in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.

"It is with tremendous gratitude that we accept this large donation from Mercer County residents," Leili said. "Our goal is to provide each child on our list with three gifts, each bearing the name of the parent who is serving in the military, this holiday season."

Among the gifts donated to children ages infant to teen were baby toys and clothes, children's hats and gloves, picture books, stuffed animals, pajamas, dolls, Lego's, toy cars, art supplies, board games, CDs/DVDs, backpacks, arts & crafts, sports supplies, and gift cards.

Residents who would still like to donate to Project Little Soldier can do so by dropping off an unwrapped gift at Marrazzo's Auto Body, an ARMS collection site located at 1538 South Olden Avenue in Hamilton, anytime this holiday season.