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Avoid Surgery and Reduce Pain with

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment in Hazlet, NJ

Are you experiencing knee pain symptoms such as popping, clicking, bone-on-bone grinding, achiness, or sharp stabs? You're not alone in this journey. Knee pain affects nearly 25% of adults in the United States, causing discomfort, swelling, and chronic pain that can hinder everyday activities like childcare, walking, and exercise. Shockingly, recent statistics from The American Academy of Family Physicians indicate a 65% increase in diagnosed knee pain cases.

In a world where invasive surgeries and prescription painkillers are often the default solutions, it's crucial to explore the effective non-invasive options that are available. These alternative treatments provide relief without the associated risks of surgery.

Today, many doctors still recommend invasive surgeries and prescription painkillers rather than exploring non-invasive options. While those treatments are needed in some circumstances, there are alternative treatments available that can help you overcome knee pain without needing to go under the knife.

NJ Sports Spine and Wellness' advanced knee pain treatment in Hazlet, NJ gives men and women suffering from knee pain hope. Instead of relying on surgery, our team of doctors and physical therapists use non-invasive, highly effective treatments to help heal prevalent conditions such as:

Service Areas

Arthritis

Soft tissue injury

ACL tears

MCL tears

Patella dislocation

Misalignment of the kneecap

Patella tendonitis

Jumper's knee

Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Knee

With the right treatment,

many people can reduce their pain and improve their function, allowing them to return to normal daily activities. Plus, by taking preventative measures and seeking prompt care from our team, it's possible to reduce your risk of developing chronic knee pain and other painful knee conditions. If you've been searching for a non-invasive way to eliminate knee pain and get back to an active life, your journey to recovery starts here.

Let's take a closer look at some of the knee pain treatments available at NJ Sports Spine and Wellness, which all serve as great alternatives to knee replacement surgery.

Physical Therapy:

Optimizing Musculoskeletal Health with Conservative Care

The field of Physical Therapy (PT) aims to rehabilitate individuals who have experienced injury, illness, or disability by restoring their mobility and function. Physical therapists cater to patients of various ages and capabilities, ranging from young athletes to senior citizens, in order to help them surpass physical limitations and improve their standard of living with advanced knee pain treatment in Hazlet, NJ.

At NJ Sports Spine and Wellness, our physical therapy program was founded on a patient-centric philosophy, where physical therapists work closely with patients to get a deep understanding of their goals, preferences, and capabilities. In doing so, they can create a tailor-made treatment strategy to address their unique knee pain with the goal of avoiding a knee replacement. Treatment may involve exercises that are therapeutic in nature and can include:

  • Joint mobilizations
  • Soft tissue mobilization using cupping
  • Graston technique
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Stretching of associated muscle groups

Joint Mobilization for Knee Pain

This unique knee pain solution involves physical therapists using skilled manual therapy techniques to help improve your joint range of motion while simultaneously reducing your knee pain.

During joint mobilization, a physical therapist applies targeted pressures or forces to a joint in specific directions to improve its mobility. The intensity of the force applied can vary, and it is adjusted based on the patient's comfort level. Joint mobilization is generally pain-free.

STM

Soft Tissue Mobilization (STM)

Soft Tissue Mobilization is a manual therapy technique that involves stretching and applying deep pressure to rigid muscle tissue. This helps to relax muscle tension and move fluids that are trapped in the tissues that cause pain and inflammation. This effective form of physical therapy is often used as an advanced knee pain treatment in Hazlet, NJ for treating knee strains, knee sprains, knee pain, and more.

Graston

The Graston Technique

The Graston Technique involves the use of handheld instruments to identify and break up scar tissue through specialized massage. During a Graston Technique session, physical therapists use convex and concave tools for cross-friction massage, which involves rubbing or brushing against the grain of the scar tissue. This process re-introduces small amounts of trauma to the affected area. In some cases, this process temporarily causes inflammation, which can actually boost the amount and rate of blood flow in the knee. This process helps initiate and promote the healing process so you can get back to a normal life.

Massage

Soft Tissue Massage

Soft tissue massage is a less intense form of massage than it's deep-tissue relative. Instead of focusing on slow and firm strokes to reach the deep layers of muscles and tissues, this massage technique uses a variety of pressures, depths, and durations. Soft tissue massage is helpful in alleviating different types of knee aches, pains, and injuries. Soft tissue massages can also help reduce stress, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.

Advanced Mechanics and Technology:

The Future of Knee Pain Therapy

While knee pain is a common symptom that affects millions of Americans every year, no two cases of knee pain are ever exactly alike. Some types of knee injuries require non-traditional solutions. At New Jersey Sports Spine and Wellness, we offer a range of treatments that leverage mechanics and technology to help patients recover from injuries while treating inflammation and pain as well as resolve the root cause of the pain.

AlterAlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill

The AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill is equipped with NASA Differential Air Pressure (DAP) technology, which is a precise air calibration system that uses the user's actual body weight to enhance rehabilitation and training. By utilizing a pressurized air chamber, the AlterG allows patients and athletes to move without any pain or restrictions.

This advanced knee pain treatment in Hazlet, NJ uniformly reduces gravitational load and body weight up to 80% in precise 1% increments. The results can be incredible, with patients reporting benefits such as:

  • Restoring and building of knee strength
  • Restored range of motion in the knee
  • Better balance
  • Improved knee function
  • More

What Makes the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill So Effective?

The AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill can monitor various metrics such as speed, gait pattern, stride length, and weight distribution. With real-time feedback and video monitoring, your rehabilitation team can promptly and accurately identify issues and pain points or monitor your progress throughout your knee pain rehabilitation journey.

One of the key benefits of this cutting-edge equipment is that it replicates natural walking and movement patterns without the artificial feel that hydrotherapy or harnesses create. This makes it an excellent choice for faster recovery after knee injuries or surgeries, as it allows for early mobilization while also preserving strength. Furthermore, it is ideal for sports recovery as athletes can use it for physical conditioning maintenance.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ
Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

Low-Level Laser Therapy

Our advanced treatment modalities for knee pain include laser therapy, which harnesses the revolutionary power of light through photobiomodulation (PBM). LiteCureâ„¢ low-level laser therapy is available for acute and chronic types of knee pain and can be hugely beneficial when coupled with physical therapy, occupational therapy, chiropractic care, and sports recovery care.

Understanding Photobiomodulation (PBM)

PBM is a medical treatment that harnesses the power of light to stimulate the body's natural healing abilities. The photons from the light penetrate deep into the tissue and interact with mitochondria, which results in a boost in energy production. This interaction sets off a biological chain reaction that increases cellular metabolism. Utilizing low-level light therapy has been shown to:

  • Alleviate knee pain
  • Speed up tissue healing
  • Promote overall health and wellness
  • Expedite knee pain injury recovery
Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

Exclusive Access to

Pain Management Professionals

At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, we know that every patient requires a personalized approach to chronic knee pain and condition management. Sometimes, our patients need access to pain management professionals, who can offer relief in conjunction with physical therapy and other solutions like low-level laser therapy.

Two of the most common services we offer for pain management includes acupuncture which can assist in avoiding knee replacement surgery.

Acupuncture is a common treatment for knee pain that involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your knee. This ancient Chinese medicine has gained popularity in Western culture due to its effectiveness in treating various conditions with minimal side effects.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release various biochemicals, including endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals helps to reduce inflammation, decrease pain perception, and improve overall blood circulation.

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating knee pain caused by a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis and injuries related to physical activity like running. Acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation, improve muscle function, and decrease pain perception, making it a viable treatment on its own or as an addition to traditional treatment methods like physical therapy.

When undergoing acupuncture, a professional acupuncturist will insert thin needles into specific acupoints on the skin. These needles are left in place for roughly 20 to 30 minutes and may be gently stimulated for an enhanced effect. Patients might experience a slight tingle or warmth at the needle insertion site, but overall, acupuncture is considered a painless procedure.

Acupuncture has been a trusted and effective treatment option for thousands of years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as a legitimate form of healthcare, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has even funded research studies to explore its efficacy for a range of medical conditions. To learn more about acupuncture for knee pain, contact NJSSW today.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a common treatment for knee pain that involves inserting thin needles into specific points in your knee. This ancient Chinese medicine has gained popularity in Western culture due to its effectiveness in treating various conditions with minimal side effects.

Acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system to release various biochemicals, including endorphins and other neurotransmitters. The release of these chemicals helps to reduce inflammation, decrease pain perception, and improve overall blood circulation.

Multiple studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating knee pain caused by a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis and injuries related to physical activity like running. Acupuncture can also help reduce inflammation, improve muscle function, and decrease pain perception, making it a viable treatment on its own or as an addition to traditional treatment methods like physical therapy.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

What Happens During Acupuncture Therapy for Knee Pain?

When undergoing acupuncture, a professional acupuncturist will insert thin needles into specific acupoints on the skin. These needles are left in place for roughly 20 to 30 minutes and may be gently stimulated for an enhanced effect. Patients might experience a slight tingle or warmth at the needle insertion site, but overall, acupuncture is considered a painless procedure.

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

Is Acupuncture Actually Effective for Knee Pain?

Acupuncture has been a trusted and effective treatment option for thousands of years. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as a legitimate form of healthcare, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has even funded research studies to explore its efficacy for a range of medical conditions. To learn more about acupuncture for knee pain, contact NJSSW today.

Avoid Knee Replacements with Advanced Knee Pain Treatment in Hazlet, NJ

Advanced Knee Pain Treatment Hazlet, NJ

When it comes to knee pain therapies and treatments, getting a knee replacement should be last on your list. Why put your body through such trauma if you haven't tried other non-invasive treatment options? Whether you're an athlete trying to work through a knee injury or you're over 65 and are dealing with osteoarthritis, NJ Sports Spine and Wellness can help.

It all starts with an introductory consultation at our office in Matawan or Marlboro. During your first visit, we'll talk to you about your knee pain symptoms, the goals you have in mind, and the advanced knee pain treatments available to you at our practice. From there, it's only a matter of time before you get back to a healthy, active lifestyle.

Every day you wait can worsen your knee condition. Contact us today and let our team help get you on the road to recovery and life with painful knees.

Latest News in Hazlet, NJ

Meals On Wheels Program Starts Monday At Hazlet Senior Center

HAZLET, NJ — The closest thing to having a home-cooked meal - with all the fun and none of the prep work - is coming to the Hazlet Senior Center starting Monday.That's when the Interfaith Neighbors' Meals on Wheels lunch program gets underway in town.The first lunch will be served at noon on Monday, July 17, at the James J. Cullen Center, 1776 Union Ave. The lunches are served Mondays to Fridays. You can see the menu ...

HAZLET, NJ — The closest thing to having a home-cooked meal - with all the fun and none of the prep work - is coming to the Hazlet Senior Center starting Monday.

That's when the Interfaith Neighbors' Meals on Wheels lunch program gets underway in town.

The first lunch will be served at noon on Monday, July 17, at the James J. Cullen Center, 1776 Union Ave. The lunches are served Mondays to Fridays. You can see the menu here.

And all Hazlet residents - and nonresidents - age 60 and over are encouraged to join in the group or "congregate" lunches, or to participate in a meal delivery program.

There is a donation of $3 per meal - but it is just a donation, said Senior Center Director Denise Bucciero. Payment is not required.

One requirement, though, is that you need to call by 11 a.m. the day before a lunch to confirm your attendance the next day.

You can call Interfaith Neighbors at 732-888-4876 or the Senior Center at 732-217-8683 to reserve. For the first day, you should call by this Friday at 11 a.m. to get started in the program.

And Bucciero is looking forward to all the good things that can come from the group meals.

"It can be lonely at home. The congregate meals are social," said Bucciero. The meals are a great way to "meet friends and have conversation." And membership in the Senior Center is not required, she added.

Bucciero was familiar with the Interfaith Neighbors program in other towns, and was instrumental in making the arrangements with the organization to bring it to Hazlet. The service comes at no cost to the township, she noted.

Interfaith Neighbors says its program provides a nutritionally balanced noonday meal for approximately 3,500 senior citizens annually. It operates several "congregate" sites, now including Hazlet.

And Cheryl Schmelzle of Hazlet is the other special ingredient in making all of this happen: She will do the cooking.

Schmelzle said she has worked in similar programs in Bayshore towns and was first a volunteer and now a longtime employee of Interfaith Neighbors, which is based in Asbury Park.

The congregate meals are cooked fresh by her at the Senior Center. she said. The delivered meals are prepared in the Asbury Park kitchens and frozen for distribution, she added.

She said there is a brief referral process to go through for the delivered meals, which Interfaith Neighbors volunteers bring to homebound seniors.

Those who want to register for the delivered meals can contact Maria at Interfaith Neighbors at Nutrition Client Intake, 732-775-0525, ext. 221 or email your request to the Nutrition Program Senior Manager, Dante Agresti at dantea@interfaithneighbors.org.

Schmelzle said that once she gets started preparing lunch on Monday, diners can just visit her in the kitchen and let her know what other days they plan to attend.

"This way I get to know everyone," Schmelzle said, adding that diners also can still call in advance.

Plated lunches will be served weekdays at noon. Homebound seniors can order meals through the program and they will be delivered to their homes.

Daily lunch is a $3 donation and should be ordered 24 hours in advance. Special requests are a $4 donation and should be ordered seven days in advance, the township says on its website.

Schmelzle noted that "special" might mean a grilled cheese, rather than the planned meal. She does not prepare meals for special dietary needs, she said. The menu is subject to change, she added, based on food availability.

But Schmelzle doesn't seem worried about the prospect of cooking lots of lunches starting next week.

She said she's worked in programs all around the Bayshore, and often had to switch locations on a day's notice.

"I can adjust just fine!" she said.

'They put everything aside': How you can help Hazlet family helping their son fight cancer

Four-minute readAsbury Park Press0:000:59ADThe deliveries come to the Lupo family home in Hazlet twice a week around dinnertime. On Mondays, it’s pizzas. On Thursdays, the smorgasbord includes chicken parmigiana, buffalo wings, subs and salads.A local Italian place, Giuseppe Pizza & Restaurant, sends the goods gratis. It’s a kind gesture to make life a bit easier for 17-year-old Jack Lupo, his parents and three siblings. Jack has been undergoing chemotherapy for Ewing sarcoma — a ra...

Four-minute read

Asbury Park Press

The deliveries come to the Lupo family home in Hazlet twice a week around dinnertime. On Mondays, it’s pizzas. On Thursdays, the smorgasbord includes chicken parmigiana, buffalo wings, subs and salads.

A local Italian place, Giuseppe Pizza & Restaurant, sends the goods gratis. It’s a kind gesture to make life a bit easier for 17-year-old Jack Lupo, his parents and three siblings. Jack has been undergoing chemotherapy for Ewing sarcoma — a rare cancer found in his right ankle — and is facing a 16-hour surgery Sept. 6.

Childhood cancer is a gut punch for any family. Adding to the Lupos’ hardship, both of Jack’s parents are out of work. His mother Sarah took leave from her job in radiology to be at Jack’s side through the endless appointments and hospital stays at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York. His father Mike is a painter who’s been largely sidelined by injuries incurred from a fall off a ladder in 2020.

“It’s been rough,” Sarah Lupo said, “but people have been so incredibly generous.”

'Makes my heart glow':Fair Haven girl knows all too well how to help kids with cancer

A community is rallying behind them, from multiple local charities to the alumni of his high school hockey team to the guy delivering chicken parm (Jack’s favorite) on Thursdays. The material help makes a difference, and so does the moral support.

“I can’t even explain how much it’s meant to me,” Jack said. “I’m really thankful for what everyone is doing.”

'He knew I was strong enough'

Through three years as a student at St. John Vianney High School, Jack Lupo was living the dream. He’s posted a 3.9 grade-point average while playing varsity ice hockey and lacrosse and holding a job at Grana Pizza Café in Matawan. In May, right after the Lancers’ final lacrosse game, he experienced ankle pain. At first he chalked it up to soreness from the sport. But later, imaging revealed the bad news: It was Ewing sarcoma, a cancer that begins in a bone or joint and typically occurs in children and young adults.

Jack spent the summer undergoing chemotherapy — three cycles of three weeks apiece. Unable to play hockey or lacrosse, he took up the gentler sport of golf to stay active.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now, just taking it day by day,” he said. “I get a little nauseous now and then.”

Right after his diagnosis, Sarah said, Jack told his family members, “God gave me this because He knew I was strong enough.” He’s handled the numerous challenges — fatigue, nausea, isolation (his immune system is compromised during the chemo cycle) and uncertainty — without complaint.

“He’s always smiling and so positive," Sarah said. “If he had hair, you’d never know there was anything wrong.”

A critical step in Jack’s treatment comes Sept. 6, when he'll undergo a 16-hour bone regeneration surgery to remove and replace his right tibia (the main bone between the knee and ankle) with a metal rod that will help regrow the bone over time. Two follow-up surgeries will be needed, plus 10 more rounds of chemotherapy.

“Once we’re done with this, God willing, he can do whatever he did before,” Sarah said.

As with many families in their position, it bothers the Lupos that less than 5% of federal spending on cancer research is devoted to the pediatric forms of the disease. The good news is that goodwill groups are doing their best to fill the gap.

It takes a village

A day after Bob Heugle got a phone call about Jack’s illness, he was at the Lupo home. Heugle never had met them before, but his Frances Foundation, a Holmdel-based nonprofit that assists local pediatric cancer patients and their families, provided gift cards and offers of further financial assistance.

Heugle has seen it all, but even he was taken aback by the Lupos’ reaction.

“They already, at their very first meeting with me, were telling me about how they want to give back to the Frances Foundation,” Heugle said. “The very first meeting, when their kid is just starting the cycles of chemo. That’s what really struck me.”

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Jack will be among the honorees at the Frances Foundation’s annual gala Oct. 21. His whole family will be guests as well.

“Even in the best of times, it’s hard,” Heugle said of the financial strain on pediatric cancer families. “All the parents' priorities go to getting that kid well. They put everything aside — that includes jobs.”

Another local charity, Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, launched an online fundraiser for the Lupos that has raised $42,000 of the $75,000 goal so far. Infinite Love was founded by Middletown resident Andrea Verdone Gorsegner, whose daughter Natalie was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 (Natalie is now 13 and is considered cured).

Earlier this month, participants in the annual St. John Vianney ice hockey alumni charity game dedicated the event to the Lupo family, bringing a big crowd together with Jack in attendance.

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“I want Jack to know how much support he has and how much he inspires other people,” Sarah Lupo said. “I’ll be the first to admit — he is holding us all up.”

The well-worn phrase “it takes a village” certainly applies here. Jack Lupo knows better than anyone. Reflecting on the support from strangers, neighbors, siblings and especially his parents — who set aside everything to help him fight — Jack summarized three brutal months in four wonderful words.

“I truly feel loved.”

You can support the Lupo family fundraiser online at www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/MTg0MzE4 or by mailing a donation to Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, c/o "Jack Strong" at P.O. Box 4064, Middletown, NJ 07748.

Jerry Carino is community columnist for the Asbury Park Press, focusing on the Jersey Shore’s interesting people, inspiring stories and pressing issues. Contact him at jcarino@gannettnj.com.

Important Upgrades For Hazlet Public Works Equipment, Services

With a new street sweeper ready for spring - and plans for curbside bulk pickup - Hazlet's Public Works' plans are coming to fruition.HAZLET, NJ — Hazlet's already well-maintained public spaces are about to get even more help when a new street sweeper goes into action this spring.The new equipment is part of a two- year, approximately $2 million capital program to upgrade Department of Public Works equipment - and services - in this 5.67-square-mile municipality.Over the last two years Hazlet Township’s Dep...

With a new street sweeper ready for spring - and plans for curbside bulk pickup - Hazlet's Public Works' plans are coming to fruition.

HAZLET, NJ — Hazlet's already well-maintained public spaces are about to get even more help when a new street sweeper goes into action this spring.

The new equipment is part of a two- year, approximately $2 million capital program to upgrade Department of Public Works equipment - and services - in this 5.67-square-mile municipality.

Over the last two years Hazlet Township’s Department of Public Works, which is headed by Ken Kruk, has had the opportunity to upgrade its fleet and replace some aging and outdated equipment, the township says.

For the first time in over four years the DPW will have a sweeper that will be out on a regular basis starting in spring 2024, said Business Administrator Robert Bengivenga.

And the equipment is just one among other upgrades being anticipated for delivery, including:

Find out what's happening in Holmdel-Hazletwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

And the Public Works upgrades are all part of the goal to offer more to residents, said Bengivenga.

Over the past two years, he said the Township Committee decided to invest heavily in updating equipment and the facilities of the DPW. With the aid of low interest rates at the time, the $2 million investment is able to cover a lot of needs.

This all fits into the governing body's body vision to offer better services to a broad spectrum of residents - for example, the newly upgraded and appointed Freedom Park (formerly 8th Street Park) provides young people with more play options; initiating Meals on Wheels in the township serves an older population, along with other programs for seniors.

And the new Public Works Department equipment will serve everyone, he said.

Also the Public Works yard at Leocadia Court has been repainted and repaved, Bengivenga said, to add to the DPW sense of pride. "We didn't want potholes," he said, when the public came to use the site.

Providing curbside bulk pickup was a major goal of the Township Committee, he added.

Beginning in the spring, the township will offer two bulk pick-ups a year from residents' homes. Residents will be able to call to make an appointment to have such items as furniture, carpeting or mattresses picked up.

This is all in addition to the many responsibilities of the Public Works staff, which has to oversee not only 77 miles of road but also snow plowing and maintaining storm water inlets and basin repairs; tree trimming: and street sign fabrication and installation, among other duties.

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Where To See Santa In Holmdel-Hazlet This Christmas Season

Santa Claus is coming to Holmdel and Hazlet for Christmas: Check out these stops on his journey.In Holmdel and Hazlet, kids can catch up with Santa at these events:HazletFind out what's happening in Holmdel-Hazletwith free, real-time updates from Patch.WallDec. 2, 3 weekends through Dec. 16, 17: New Jersey Museum of Transportation presents the Christmas Express with Santa, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Fare is $7 for a...

Santa Claus is coming to Holmdel and Hazlet for Christmas: Check out these stops on his journey.

In Holmdel and Hazlet, kids can catch up with Santa at these events:

Hazlet

Find out what's happening in Holmdel-Hazletwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Wall

Dec. 2, 3 weekends through Dec. 16, 17: New Jersey Museum of Transportation presents the Christmas Express with Santa, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Fare is $7 for all. is Located at Allaire State Park on Route 524, Wall. Click the museum's Facebook site for details.

Dec. 10, 17: Historic Allaire Village - Christmas at Allaire from 12 noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays, Dec. 10 and 17. See the Village transformed into an enchanting showcase of holiday cheer. Visit includes a surprise visit by Santa Claus. Tickets can be purchased in advance for just $8 per person (children 2 and under admitted for free) or at the door (if available) for $10 (children 2 and under admitted for free). Advanced purchase is highly recommended. See the Village event website for more details.

And you can find other chances to meet with Santa:

Freehold Raceway Mall, 3710 Route 9, Freehold Township offers "Experience the Magic of Santa." Children can visit Santa’s winter wonderland at the Lower Level, Zara Court. A visit with Santa is always free and photo packages are available for purchase.

Here's how to go about making an appointment: Pre-Booking your visit is recommended to help reduce wait time and it's easy.

There are also special holiday events:

Santa Cares: In partnership with Autism Speaks, the mall has reserved a time for special sensory-friendly Santa experiences. Sunday, Dec. 3 from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Pet Night: Bring your favorite pets to see Santa and support the Humane Society with any photo experience on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Dec. 4. Please enter and exit via the lower level entrance by Old Navy just prior to, and immediately after, your Santa visit.

Check the mall website for other shopping tips and to learn about partnership of the mall and the United Way of Monmouth & Ocean Counties for winter coat donations.

Monmouth Mall: Eatontown, Routes 35 and 36; Santa is now located in the common area opposite Macy's. You can make reservations here for this holiday tradition and see the full schedule. There is also an opportunity for photos for your pet. See the "Santa Paws" site to book a reservation.

Magic of Lights, PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, through Dec. 30. Sundays to Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays to Saturdays, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Enjoy visits with Santa at Toyota Holiday Village.

Santa at American Dream: Here are the hours: https://www.americandream.com/photos-with-santa# They also offer pet photos with Santa Sundays: Dec. 3, 10 and 17 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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Military Mom Gathers Care Packages For Troops From Hazlet

HAZLET, NJ — Kathy Bossert has a son in the military and comes from a long line of people who have served the country. So she knows how much it means to those in the service to receive a gift from home.So last December, she started what is both a "one-woman show" and a community effort - Hazlet's American Hero Project. She collects gifts, gift cards and more to be mailed to the 24 Hazlet residents currently serving stateside and abroad in the military.She followed up last year's gift collection with one in May f...

HAZLET, NJ — Kathy Bossert has a son in the military and comes from a long line of people who have served the country. So she knows how much it means to those in the service to receive a gift from home.

So last December, she started what is both a "one-woman show" and a community effort - Hazlet's American Hero Project. She collects gifts, gift cards and more to be mailed to the 24 Hazlet residents currently serving stateside and abroad in the military.

She followed up last year's gift collection with one in May for Armed Forces Day. And now she is in the midst of her second holiday collection.

"I love what I do, and I rely on the town and the VFW and the American Legion for donations," Bossert said.

Part of Bossert's inspiration comes from her own family. Her family currently has her son in the Air Force (joining last year) and her nephew in the Navy, and she said her family has had veterans in every generation dating back to the Civil War.

Find out what's happening in Holmdel-Hazletwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

With that legacy behind her, she is now getting to the task at hand.

She is organizing large gift boxes (16"x 16" x 16") that can weigh 25 pounds for all the personnel from Hazlet, no matter where they may serve - from Mogadishu (Somalia) to Missouri.

And she customizes the boxes to the recipient.

For example, her son, Airman First Class Michael Bossert, is currently stationed in Missouri and really likes to get hand warmers, she said. "But I'm not sending those to someone serving in Florida!" she added.

Apart from researching the protocols in each base, she said she has to fill out Customs forms to make sure the packages reach their destinations overseas.

There are Hazlet residents in the Middle East, in Bulgaria, as well as in the United Kingdom and Japan.

She somehow makes this daunting task work - not only with the help of donations, but by working closely with the Post Office, which adds an employee to help her individually to handle the shipping.

Her project gets its following on its Facebook page, but she wants the wider community to know about it too, and to know that she has received thank-you notes from many of the recipients.

The response has been "overwhelming, humbling actually," said Bossert, a 22-year resident of Hazlet and mother of three. The thank-you notes show such gratitude, "it makes me cry," she says.

And bins are out now for collections up to Dec. 1. Then Bossert starts packing the gifts for mailing Dec. 5.

There are seven bins set up around town with the exception of Here We Grow, which is in Keyport, but owned by one of Hazlet's actively serving military. They are:

Bossert explains that each package contains handwritten thank-you cards and also the Scouts and students in town send homemade cards.

"This holiday package, they are receiving Boy Scout popcorn and Halloween candy. I also make sure that each service member receives a $100 Amazon gift card to buy whatever they might need," Bossert said.

Here is the donation "wish list," compiled by those out in the field - her son and his base mates, she said:

An Amazon Wish List can be found at this link.

Also, whatever Bossert can't send or hold over until the next mailing gets donated to a veterans' home in Menlo Park, she said.

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