“Christmas is about the best time of the whole year. When you walk down the streets, even for weeks before Christmas comes, and there's lights hanging up, green ones and red ones, sometimes there's snow and everyone's hustling some place. But they don't hustle around Christmastime like they usually do. You know, they're a little more friendlier. They bump into you, they laugh and they say, "Pardon me. Merry Christmas." Especially when it gets real close to Christmas night. Everybody's walking home, you can hardly hear a sound. Bells are ringing, kids are singing, the snow is coming down. And boy what a pleasure it is to think that you've got some place to go to. And that the place that you're going to, there's somebody in it that you really love.”
This Christmas will be very tough on the children in Far Rockaway, Broad Channel, Coney Island, Staten Island and all the other areas that were slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Many of those families are still living without heat and hot water; many of them are still dragging their destroyed property out of their homes. But many of them are counting their blessings, happy that they survived a storm that took so many lives. They feel fortunate that they have friends and families to get through this together with.
All around the area, organizations and groups and elected officials have been collecting food and clothing to help the families. Now many of the same people are collecting toys for the hurricane’s littlest victims – the children.
Locally, there are a number of toy drives that you can donate to. The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association will be collecting toys at our office at 84-20 Jamaica Avenue on Friday, December 7, (before and after the 6:30 p.m. tree lighting) and all day, Saturday, December 8.
The American Legion Auxiliary Woodhaven Unit 118 will be collecting toys on Saturday, December 15, at their headquarters (89-02 91st Street) from 1 to 3 p.m. They are expecting a special guest, so bring your camera!
Neir’s Tavern (87-48 78th Street) is holding a three-day music festival to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy starting at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, December 14. Suggested donation at the door is $20. There will be raffles and prizes, great music and food – a fantastic opportunity to have a great time and benefit others. They will also be collecting toys the entire weekend.
And our elected officials are all collecting new, unwrapped toys at their offices. Assemblyman Mike Miller’s office is at 83-91 Woodhaven Boulevard and you can call 718-805-0950 for more information. Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office is at 93-06 101st Avenue in Ozone Park and for more information you can call 718-738-1083. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s office is at 64-77 Dry Harbor Road in Middle Village and for more information you can call 718-366-3900.
And State Senator Joe Addabbo is collecting toys at both of his offices – the newly reopened office in Howard Beach (159-53 102nd Street) and his satellite office in Middle Village (66-85 73rd Place). Addabbo’s Howard Beach office does not yet have working phones, so call Middle Village at 718-497-1630 for more information.
Also, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association has created a special blog (Google “Sandy Toy Drive Central” to find it) where we are gathering information about toy drives throughout the area. We’ve gotten so many calls from people outside of Woodhaven looking for ways to help, so we’re trying to point them in the right direction and help them find a convenient and local place for them to donate.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association’s next Town Hall meeting is at 1 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, at 78-15 Jamaica Avenue. Contact the WRBA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 718-296-3735.