BERNARDSVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Turning heartache into help, one New Jersey family is honoring a beloved husband and a Marine veteran just weeks after his passing.
They are continuing his mission to help others in need, reports CBSN New York’s John Dias.
For more than 20 years, Jamie Vanderveer supported the Marines’ Toys For Tots program in the hopes of making the holidays brighter for kids in need.
Nearly two weeks ago, the 50-year-old from Piscataway, N.J., lost his battle with cancer.
“He had treatment for 10 months and nothing worked. Never complained once, never said why me, he just kept fighting through it,” Vanderveer’s wife, Tonianne said.
This year, his wife and family members are honoring him by continuing his mission.
Jamie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school and proudly served his country with tours of duty in Iraq, the Philippines, and Panama.
It’s not just his courage his family will remember forever but his generosity that shined brightest during the holiday season.
His niece, Alexandra Daras, is using her boutique as a place to collect gifts, and just four days ago she started up a toy drive in his name.
“I wanted to turn it around, take all my grief and put it to something paying it forward,” she said.
“I wanted to make it quick and easy, and Jamie touched so many people’s lives outside of New Jersey that I wanted to open it up and give everyone an opportunity to shop for this cause.”
Boxes are already pouring in and the family is hoping to raise $10,000 worth of toys.
“I know he is just thrilled at the moment, up in Heaven, and I know he is smiling and saying it’s all good,” said wife Tonianne Vanderveer.
The family will be collecting the toys until Dec. 13.
For more information on how to donate, see the family’s website at ThePrettyPinkRooster.com/pages/Toys-for-Tots. The family has also set up an Amazon wish list for people to purchase specific toys for children in need.