Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program’s service dog and mascot, Roxanne, passed suddenly on July 19th at 12 years of the age. Owner, Danielle Demers noticed at an early age that Roxanne, a thorough bred Rottweiler, had a gentle and lovable temperament. “Kids just loved her. She was a big teddy bear,” said Greg DiPiano, founder and president of the Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program.
Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program began 31 years ago in DiPiano’s living room where he would recruit volunteers to clean up old toys to hand out to those in need at the holidays. It is now a 501c3 nonprofit organization that distributes thousands of new toys at the holidays and supports the community through year round events. Roxanne was a big part of the organization and participated in all facets, attending nearly all events including giving out gifts to families in need, visiting nursing homes and preschools, Atlantic City Police Department’s Pizza with a Cop program, National Night Out and handing water out on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.
“Roxanne especially shined with the children. She loved being with kids,” said Demers.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in, Roxanne traveled to Newtown Conneticut to assist for 8 days. While there, Roxanne took on the role of a therapy dog, consoling the families and reducing very high levels of anxiety in the schools and comminity.
Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program greatly appreciates Boakes Funeral Home in Mays Landing for their service and care in helping Roxanne pass or cross the Rainbow Bridge with all the dignity and respect she deserves, all at no charge. Keith and Christine Boakes had recently opened the Rainbow Bridge Pet Crematory in Mays Landing. Keith reports “It was absolutely our honor. We decided we will never charge for service animals. It is a way we can say thank you for all they give us.”
There is no doubt that Roxanne was a wonderful asset to the Atlantic County Toys for Kids Program and to the entire community. “I’ll never have another Roxanne. She was my friend and my family,” shares Demers, “but I do take comfort in knowing she had a really good life.”