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Human Services staff helps St. Nick hand out gifts to residents
NEW LISBON - Continuing the Christie Administration’s Season of Service, Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Deputy Commissioner Dawn Apgar and staff today welcomed Santa and his elves at the New Lisbon Developmental Center (NLDC) in Burlington County. St. Nick rode in on a local fire company ladder-truck with a satchel full of donated gifts for the residents.The event is a Christmas Eve tradition, started 35 years ago by the Medford Union Fire Company.
“Today is such a special occasion – you can really feel the residents’ anticipation and excitement for Santa’s visit,” said Deputy Commissioner Apgar. “The Medford firefighters go above and beyond to bring joy and a festive spirit that truly is remarkable to experience.” 
With the help of NLDC staff, Santa distributed small gifts to every resident. He even left behind a few extras in the cottages for individuals unable to attend. 
 “Having Santa on campus is one of those memorable moments, when you see the residents’ - and staff’s – faces just light up,” said NLDC Chief Executive Officer Patricia Merk.  “We’re incredibly grateful to the Medford firemen and volunteers for making this event possible for so many years.”
During Santa’s visit, residents have the opportunity to interact with him, see the fire trucks and meet firefighters and emergency management personnel.
There are 387 people living at NLDC, supported by more than 1,300 staff members.  The center was founded in 1914 and is located on a 1,896-acre tract on the edge of the South Jersey Pinelands.  The campus includes cottages, which are residential living units, a health services center, recreational facilities, an eatery, maintenance buildings and a thrift shop.
Today's event was part of the Christie Administration's second annual Season of Service.  Governor Christie has emphasized the importance of community service since his inaugural in 2010. Today, approximately 1.5 million New Jerseyans contribute about 170 million hours of service each year, bringing a positive influence to neighborhoods and communities throughout the Garden State through local groups, houses of worship and civic organizations.
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