By Anna Gustafson
City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) kicked off his annual toy, coat and food drive Tuesday, saying this year’s collection is especially important for his constituents facing difficult financial times.
“During these tough economic times, it’s critical that we do everything we can to help our neighbors in need,” Gennaro said.
Gennaro was joined by Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide, Samuel Field Y Associate Executive Director Rick Lewis and Centro Hispano board member Eduardo Barahona at his office to launch the drive. The community board, Samuel Field Y in Little Neck and Centro Hispano in Jamaica are all helping to collect items for the second-annual drive that will last through Dec. 21.
“Judging by the résumés we received for the part-time job that was open earlier this year, there are a lot of people out of work,” Adam-Ovide said. “There’s a big need for this drive.”
Toys, coats and food will be collected at Gennaro’s office at 185-10 Union Tpke. Food will also be collected at the Jamaica Muslim Center and St. Nicholas of Tolentine Roman Catholic Church in Jamaica. Individuals may bring toys to Centro Hispano, and food, toys and coats may be dropped off at the Samuel Field Y.
The food will be donated to both St. Nicholas and Samuel Field Y. Toys will be given to the local chapter of Toys for Tots and coats will be donated to NY Cares.
New or gently used coats may be donated and food should be non-perishable.
Lewis echoed Adam-Ovide’s sentiment that the drive is especially needed in the rough economy.
“We’ve seen the need for warm clothing and food go up significantly in the past year,” Lewis said.
Khwaja M. Hassan, president of the Jamaica Muslim Center, also said goods are especially needed this year.
“We need more of such activities during these hard economic times,” Hassan said.
Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares, urged borough residents to donate coats.
“The economic crisis has hit low-income families especially hard, so the need for coats will be especially great this year,” Bagley said.
Sgt. Henry Kelcinski, spokesman for Toys for Tots NYC, said toys for families in need are important during the holidays to help boost families’ morale.
“We know from the smiles on the children’s faces and the grateful appreciation of their parents — that simple gift of a shiny new toy, something many take for granted, can make a tremendous difference in the life of a child,” Kelcinski said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.