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Photo courtesy of NYFAC
Photo courtesy of NYFAC
New York Families for Autistic Children will participate in an all-day fundraiser on Sept. 17.

New York Families for Autistic Children (NYFAC) in Howard Beach is hoping that on Sept. 17 people will open their hearts and wallets to participate in the “Big Give for Autism,” an all-day fundraiser hosted in collaboration with the Autism Society.

The 24-hour give-a-thon will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Autism Society, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots organization founded to help those with autism, and 85 percent of the money raised specifically by NYFAC will fund its capital building campaign to expand and improve the organization’s building in Howard Beach.

Though the fundraiser is being held on one day, Tonia Cimino, director of development at NYFAC, noted that anyone can donate before the event by sending a check to or visiting NYFAC headquarters.

“The more people who help us, the more we get to help people, so it’s through the efforts of a dedicated staff, a great community, people who volunteer, people who give back to us that we are able to give back to those we help,” Cimino said.

NYFAC began catering  to families with autistic children in 1998 and provides many services including medicaid service coordination, linking families with community rehabilitation specialists and offering recreational services to support and encourage positive behaviors and actions in autistic children through family activities.

NYFAC has collaborated with the Autism Society on numerous occasions and including them in this fundraiser was a natural fit for the grassroots organization that regularly partners with other nonprofits. Michael Leaver, director of development for Autism Society, said the organization has 104 affiliates in cities across the country but there are still cities that the Autism Society does not reach. The closest affiliate for Queens residents is located in Wantagh, Long Island, or the Bronx.

“There are other organizations that provide services that we don’t necessarily provide or there are organizations in areas that we don’t have the affiliates for one reason or another so it behooves us to be an organization within ourselves,” Leaver said. “We certainly try to work with as many organizations that share a similar mission that we do.”

Though the fundraiser is mostly done through online donations, Leaver said that local affiliates are holding events to encourage giving. An affiliate in Kansas City is partnering with local eateries and food trucks to provide discounts on meals for those who donate to the Autism Society. If the fundraiser is successful, Leaver said the Autism Society hopes to recreate that success next year.

The money raised nationally will be used to bolster the work Autism Society does around advocacy, providing services, referring families to other services and supporting local affiliates. Each affiliate will be in charge of how they spend the money raised.

“We are very, very grateful to anyone who has ever helped us,” Cimino said. “NYFAC does amazing work helping parents help their children one family at a time, and we are very committed to that.”

The Big Give for Autism begins at midnight on Sept. 17 and ends at 11:59 p.m. To donate to NYFAC, visit this link or contact Tonia Cimino at tonia@nyfac.org or 347-566-3122 ext. 305.

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