Jersey Shore teen recognized for community service

For years of giving to the community, U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, recognized Kyle Toner, a 13-year-old student at Jersey Shore Area Middle School, Monday.

Toner, an eighth-grade student, was given a certificate of appreciation by Marino for holding an annual blanket collection to distribute to county residents in need.

Five years ago, Toner was feeling the winter chill and he begun asking questions about what those without homes do during the winter. After discussing it with his parents, Toner decided to begin collecting blankets.

“I was cold. I don’t know what made me think about (starting a collection),” Toner said.

“I thought it was great,” Toner’s mother Jodi said. “I thought if people would respond to it, (it would be helpful).”

What started with 67 blankets that first year, now has grown to Toner collecting 520 last year.

The collection saw a dip in amount this past year with only 330, but Toner – who hopes to work in professional baseball when he’s older – expects to be back on track next year. He said with so many groups and individuals collecting supplies for those affected by Superstorm Sandy, he wasn’t able to get as many.

After collecting the blankets, they are distributed through a variety of organizations, including the Salvation Army, the Rescue Workers and the American Red Cross.

Marino said he appreciated Toner’s work as he understands that there are those who need extra help.

“I really am proud of you and commend you for what you have been doing,” Marino told Toner.

And as next year comes around, Toner may have a little extra help.

“Keep me in mind,” Marino said.

Marino offered to put an announcement out to colleagues and on his website, along with donating to the collection.

“I’ll be more than glad to help you,” he told Toner.

Toner has collected 1,132 blankets over the past five years.